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**L'oenvre de Pasteur est admirable; elle montre 
son genie, mais il faut avoir vecu dans son 
intimite pour connaitre toute la bonte de son 
ccBur/' — De. Roux. 







Translated from the French by Mrs. R. L. Devonshirt 










Ii'homme en ce si^cle a pris une connaissance toute nouvelle des ressource 
des la nature et, par I'application de son intelligence il a commence ^ lea 
faire fnictifier. II a refait, par la geologic et la pal^ontologie, I'hlstoire de la 
terra, entrain^ elle-m§me par la grande loi de revolution. D connait mieux, 
grace S, Pasteur Burtout, les conditions d'existence de son propre organism© 
et peut entre-prendre d'y combattre les causes de destruction. — Monod, 
L'Europe Contemporaine. 

Whether to admire more the man or his method, the life or 
the work, I leave for the readers of this well-told story to 
decide. Among the researches that have made the name of 
Pasteur a household word in the civilised world, three are of 
the first importance — a knowledge of the true nature of the 
processes in fermentation — a knowledge of the chief maladies 
which have scourged man and animals — a knowledge of the 
measures by which either the body may be protected against 
these diseases, or the poison neutralised when once within the 


Our knowledge of disease has advanced in a curiously 
uniform way. The objective features, the symptoms, natur- 
ally first attracted attention. The Greek physicians, Hippoc- 
rates, Galen, and Aretaeus, gave excellent accounts of many 
diseases; for example, the forms of malaria. They knew, too, 
very well, their modes of termination, and the art of prognosis 
was studied carefully. But of the actual causes of disease they 
knew little or nothing, and any glimmerings of truth were 
obscured in a cloud of theory. The treatment was haphazard, 
partly the outcome of experience, partly based upon false 
theories of the cause of the disease. This may be said to have 
been the sort of knowledge possessed by the profession until 



men began to study the *' seats and causes" of disease, and tt^ 
search out the changes inside the body, corresponding to the 
outward symptoms and the external appearances. Morbid 
anatomy began to be studied, and in the hundred years from 
1750 to 1850 such colossal strides were made that we knew 
well the post-mortem appearances of the more common 
diseases; the recognition of which was greatly helped by a 
study of the relation of the pathological appearances with the 
signs and symptoms. The 19th century may be said to have 
given us an extraordinarily full knowledge of the changes 
which disease produces in the solids and fluids of the body. 
Great advances, too, were made in the treatment of disease. 
We learned to trust Nature more and drugs less; we got rid 
(in part) of treatment by theory, and we ceased to have a 
drug for every symptom. But much treatment was, and still 
is, irrational, not based on a knowledge of the cause of the 
disease. In a blundering way many important advances were 
made, and even specifics were discovered — cinchona, for 
example, had cured malaria for a hundred and fifty years 
before Laveran found the cause. At the middle of the last 
century we did not know much more of the actual causes of 
the great scourges of the race, the plagues, the fevers and the 
pestilences, than did the Greeks. Here comes in Pasteur's 
great work. Before him Egyptian darkness; with his advent 
a light that brightens more and more as the years give us ever 
fuller knowledge. The facts that fevers were catching, that 
epidemics spread, that infection could remain attached to 
particles of clothing, etc., all gave support to the view that 
the actual cause was something alive, a contagium vivum. It 
was really a very old view, the germs of which may be found 
in the Fathers, but which was first clearly expressed — so far 
as I know — by Frascastorius, a Veronese physician in the 
16th century, who spoke of the seeds of contagion passing from 
one person to another; and he first drew a parallel between 
the processes of contagion and the fermentation of wine. This 
was more than one hundred years before Kircher, Leeuwen- 
Hoek, and others, began to use the microscope and to see 


animalcule, etc., in water, and so gave a basis for the 
"infinitely little" view of the nature of disease germs. And 
it was a study of the processes of fermentation that led 
Pasteur to the sure ground on which we now stand. Starting 
as a pure chemist, and becoming interested in the science of 
crystallography, it was not until his life at Lille, a town with 
important brewing industries, that Pasteur became interested 
in the biological side of chemical problems. Many years before 
it had been noted by Cagniard-Latour that yeast was composed 
of cells capable of reproducing themselves by a sort of budding, 
and he made the keen suggestion that it was possibly through 
some effect of their vegetation that the sugar was transformed. 
But Liebig's view everywhere prevailed that the ferment was 
an alterable, organic substance which exercised a catalytic 
force, transforming the sugar. It was in August, 1857, that 
Pasteur sent his famous paper on Lactic Acid Fermentation 
to the Lille Scientific Society; and in December of the same 
year he presented to the Academy of Sciences a paper on 
Alcoholic Fermentation, in which he concluded that the 
deduplication of sugar into alcohol and carbonic acid is cor- 
relevant to a phenomena of life. These studies had the signal 
effect of diverting the man from the course of his previous more 
strictly chemical studies. It is interesting to note how slowly 
these views dislocated the dominant theories of Liebig. More 
than ten years after their announcement I remember that we 
had in our chemical lectures the catalytic theory very fully 

Out of these researches arose a famous battle which kept 
Pasteur hard at work for four or five years — the struggle over 
spontaneous generation. It was an old warfare, but the 
microscope had revealed a new world, and the experiments on 
fermentation had lent great weight to the omne vivum ex ovo 
doctrine. The famous Italians, Redi and Spallanzani, had led 
the way in their experiments, and the latter had reached the 
conclusion that there is no vegetable and no animal that has 
not its own germ. But heterogenesis became the burning 
• "'^stion, and Pouchet in France, and Bastian in England, 


led the opposition to Pasteur. The many famous experiments 
carried conviction to the minds of scientific men, and destroyed 
for ever the old belief in spontaneous generation. All along 
the analogy between disease and fermentation must have been 
in Pasteur's mind; and then came the suggestion: ''What 
would be most desirable would be to push those studies far 
enough to prepare the road for a serious research into the origin 
of various diseases." If the changes in lactic, alcohol and 
butyric fermentations are due to minute living organisms, wh;9 
should not the same tiny creatures make the changes which 
occur in the body in the putrid and suppurative diseases. "With 
an accurate training as a chemist, having been diverted in his 
studies upon fermentation into the realm of biology, a^d 
nourishing a strong conviction of the identity between putre- 
factive changes of the body and fermentation, Pasteur was well 
prepared to undertake investigations, which had hitherto been 
confined to physicians alone. 

The first outcome of the researches of Pasteur upon fermenta- 
tion and spontaneous generation represents a transformation 
in the practice of surgery, which, it is not too much to say, 
has been one of the greatest boons ever conferred upon 
humanity. It had long been recognised that now and again 
a wound healed without the formation of pus, that is without 
suppuration, but both spontaneous and operative wounds were 
almost invariably associated with that change; and, moreover, 
they frequently became putrid, as it was then called — infected, 
as we should say; the general system became involved, and 
the patient died of blood poisoning. So common was this, 
particularly in old^ iU-equipped hospitals, that many surgeons 
feared to operate, and the general mortality in all surgical cases 
was very high. Believing that from outside the germs came 
v.liich caused the decomposition of wounds, just as from the 
atmosphere the sugar solution got the germs which caused 
the fermentation, a young surgeon at Glasgow, Joseph Lister, 
applied the principles of Pasteur's experiments to their 
treatment. It may be well here to quote from Lister's original 
p^per in the Lancet, 1867: — "Turning now to the question 


how the atmosphere produces decomposition of organic sub- 
stances, we find that a flood of light has been thrown upon 
this most important subject by the philosophic researches of 
M. Pasteur, who has demonstrated by thoroughly convincing 
evidence that it is not to its oxygen or to any of its gaseous 
constituents that the air owes this property, but to minute 
particles suspended in it, which are the germs of various low 
forms of life, long since revealed by the microscope, and 
regarded as merely accidental concomitants of putrescence, but 
now shown by Pasteur to be its essential cause, resolving the 
complex organic compounds into substances of simpler chemical 
constitution, just as the yeast plant converts sugar into alcohol 
and carbonic acid.'^ From these beginnings modern surgery 
took its rise, and the whole subject of wound infection, not 
only in relation to surgical diseases, but to child-bed fever, 
forms now one of the most brilliant chapters in the history of 
Preventive Medicine. 


Pasteur was early impressed with the analogies between 
fermentation and putrefaction and the infectious diseases, and 
in 1863 he assured the French Emperor that his ambition was 
**to arrive at the knowledge of the causes of putrid and con- 
tagious diseases." After a study upon the diseases of wines, 
which has had most important practical bearings, an oppor- 
tunity came of the very first importance, which not only 
changed the whole course of his career, but had great influencf 
in the development of medical science. A disease of the silk- 
worm had, for some years, ruined one of the most important 
industries of France, and in 1865 the Government asked 
Pasteur to give up the laboratory work and teaching, and to 
devote his whole energies to the task of investigating it. The 
story of the brilliant success which followed years of application 
to the problem will be read with deep interest by every student 
of science. It was the first of his victories in the application 
«>f the experimental methods of a trained chemist to the 


problems of biology, and it placed his name high in the group 
of the most illustrious benefactors of practical industries. 

The national tragedy of 1870-2 nearly killed Pasteur. He 
had a terrible pilgrimage to make in search of his son, a 
sergeant in Bourbaki's force. *'The retreat from Moscow 
cannot have been worse than this,'' said the savant. In 
October, 1868, he had had a stroke of paralysis, from which 
he recovered in a most exceptional way, as it seemed to have 
diminished neither his enthusiasm nor his energy. In a series 
of studies on the diseases of beer, and on the mode of production 
of vinegar, he became more and more convinced that these 
studies on fermentation had given him the key to the nature of 
the infectious diseases. It is a remarkable fact that the distin- 
guished EnglisJi philosopher of the seventeenth century, the 
•rnan who more than any one else of his century appreciated the 
importance of the experimental method, Robert Boyle, had 
said that he who could discover the nature of ferments and 
fermentation, would be more capable than anyone else of 
explaining the nature of certain diseases. The studies on 
spontaneous generation, and Lister's application of the germ 
theory to the treatment of wounds, had aroused the greatest 
interest in the medical world, and Villemin, in a series of most 
brilliant experiments, had demonstrated the infectivity of 
tuberculosis. An extraordinary opportunity now offered for the 
study of a widespread epidemic disease, known as anthrax, 
which in many parts of France killed from 25 to 30 per cent, of 
the sheep and cattle, and which in parts of Europe had been 
pandemic, attacking both man and beast. As far back as 1838 
minute rods had been noted in the blood of animals which had 
died from the disease ; and in 1863 Devaine thought that these 
little bodies, which he called bacteridia, were the cause of the 
disease. In 1876 a young German district physician, Robert 
Koch, began a career, which in interest and importance rivals 
that of the subject of this memoir. Koch confirmed in every 
point the old researches of Devaine; but he did much more, 
and for the first time isolated the organism in pure culture 
outside the body, grew successive generations, showed the 


remarkable spore formation, and produced the disease arti- 
ficially in animals by inoculating with the cultures. Pasteu^ 
confirmed these results, and in the face of extraordinary opposi 
tion succeeded in convincing his opponents. Out of this study 
came a still more important discovery, namely, that it was 
possible so to attenuate or weaken the virus or poison that the 
animal could be inoculated, and have a slight attack, recover, 
and be protected against the disease. More than eighty years 
had passed since, on May 14th, 1796, Jenner, with a small 
bit of virus taken from a cow-pox on the hand of the milkmaid, 
Sarah Newlme, had vaccinated a child, and thus proved that a 
slight attack of one disease would protect the body from disease 
of a similar character. It was an occasion famous in the 
history of medicine, when, in the spring of 1881, at Melun, at 
the farmyard of Pouilly le Fort, the final test case was deter- 
mined, and the flock of vaccinated sheep remained well, while 
every one of the unvaccinated, inoculated from the samo 
material, had died. It was indeed a great triumph. 

The studies on chicken cholera, yellow fever, and on swinej 
plague helped to further the general acceptance of the genu 
theory. I well remember at the great meeting of the Inter- 
national Congress in 1881, the splendid reception accorded to 
the distinguished Frenchman, who divided with Virchow the 
honours of the meeting. Finally came the work upon one of 
the most dreaded of all diseases — hydrophobia, an infection of 
a most remarkable character, the germ of which remains un- 
discovered. The practical results of Pasteur's researches have 
given us a prophylactic treatment of great efficacy. Before its 
introduction the only means of preventing the development of 
the disease was a thorough cauterisation of the disease wound 
within half an hour after its infliction. Pasteur showed that 
animals could be made immune to the poison, and devised a 
method by which the infection conveyed by the bite could be 
neutralised, Pasteur Institutes for the treatment of hydro- 
phobia have been established in different countries, and where 
the disease is widely prevalent have been of the greatest 
benefit. Except at the London Congress, the only occasion 


on whicli I saw the great master was in 1891 or 1892, when he 
demonstrated at the Institute to a group of us the technique 
of the procedure, and then superintended the inoculations of 
the day. A large number of persons are treated in the course 
of the year; a good many, of course, have not been bitten by 
mad dogs ; but a very careful classification is made : — 

(a) Includes persons bitten by dogs proved experimentally 
to have been mad. 

(&) Persons bitten by dogs declared to be mad hy competent 
veterinary surgeons. 

(c) All other cases. 

The mortality even in Class A is very slight, though many 
patients are not brought until late. Incidentally it may be 
remarked the lesson of this country in its treatment of hy- 
drophobia is one of the most important ever presented in 
connection with an infectious disease. There are no Pasteur 
Institutes; there are no cases. "Why? The simple muzzling 
order has prevented the transmission of the disease from dog to 
dog, and once exterminated in the dog, the possibility of the 
infection in man had gone. In 1888 the crowning work of 
Pasteur's life was the establishment of an Institute to serve ai^ 
a centre of study on contagious disease, and a dispensary for 
the treatment of hydrophobia, which is to-day the most 
important single centre of research in the world. The closing 
years of his life were fuU of interest in the work of his 
colleagues and assistants, and he had the great satisfaction of 
participating, with his assistant Eoux, in another great victory 
over the dread scourge, diphtheria. Before his death in 1895 
he had seen hiz work prosper in a way never before granted to 
any great discoverer. To no one man has it ever been given to 
accomr-lish work cf such great importance for the well-being of 
humanity. As Paul Bert expressed it in the report to the 
French Government, Pasteur's work constitutes three great 
discoveries, which may be thus formulated. 1. Each ferment- 
ation is produced by the development of a special microbe. 

2. Each infectious disease is produced by the development 
within the organism of a special microbe. 


3. The microbe of an infectious disease culture, under certain 
detrimental condition is attenuated in its pathogenic activity; 

from a virus it has become a vaccine. 

In an address delivered in Edinburgh by Sir James Simpson 

in 1853, in which he extolled the recent advancement of 
physic, occur these words: — **I do not believe, that, at the 
present moment, any individual in the profession, who, in 
surgery or in midwifery, could point out some means of curing 
— or some prophylactic means of averting by antecedent treat- 
ment — the liability to these analogous or identical diseases — 
viz., surgical or puerperal fever — such a fortunate individual 
would, I say, make, in relation to surgery and midwifery, a 
greater and more important discovery than could possibly be 
attained by any other subject of investigation. Nor does such 
a result seem hopelessly unattainable.'' Little did he think 
that the fulfilment of these words was in the possession of a 
young Englishman who had just gone to Edinburgh as an 
assistant to his colleague. Professor Syme. Lister's recogni- 
tion of the importance of Pasteur's studies led to the fulfilment 
within this generation of the pious hope expressed by Simpson. 
In Institutions and Hospitals surgical infection and puerperal 
fovers are things of the past, and for this achievement if for 
nothing else, the names of Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister 
will go down to posterity among those of the greatest 
benefactors of humanity. 


In his growth the man kept pace with the scientist — heart 
and head held even sway in his life. To many whose estimate 
of French character is gained from "yellow" literature this 
story will reveal the true side of a great people, in whom filial 
piety, brotherly solicitude, generosity, and self-sacrifice are 
combined with a rare devotion to country. "Was there ever a 
more charming picture than that of the family at Dole! 
Napoleon's old sergeant, Joseph Pasteur, is almost as interest- 
ing a character as his illustrious son; and we follow the joys 
and sorrows of the home with unflagging attention. Rarely 

zIy introduction 

has a great man been able to pay such a tribute to his father 
as that paid by Pasteur: — *'For thirty years I have been his 
constant care, I owe everything to him.'' 

This is a biography for young men of science, and for others 
who wish to learn what science has done, and may do, for 
humanity. From it may be gleaned three lessons. 

The value of method, of technique, in the hands of a great 
master has never been better illustrated. Just as Harvey, 
searching out Nature by way of experiment, opened the way 
for a study of the functions of the body in health, so did 
Pasteur, bringing to the problems of biology the same great 
organon, shed a light upon processes the nature of which had 
defied the analysis of the keenest minds. From Dumas 's 
letter to Pasteur, quoted in Chapter YI., a paragraph may 
be given in illustration: — ''The art of observation and that of 
experiment are very distinct. In the first case, the fact may 
either proceed from logical reasons or be mere good fortune; 
it is sufficient to have some penetration and the sense of truth 
in order to profit by it. But the art of experimentation 
leads from the first to the last link of the chain, without 
hesitation and without a blank, making successive use of 
Reason, which suggests an alternative, and of Experienoe, 
which decides on it, until, starting from a faint glimmer, the 
full blaze of light is reached.'' Pasteur had the good fortune 
to begin with chemistry, and with the science of crystallo- 
graphy, which demanded extraordinary accuracy, and developed 
that patient persistence so characteristic of aU his researches. 

In the life of a young man the most essential thing for 
happiness is the gift of friendship. And here is the second 
great lesson. As a Frenchman, Pasteur had the devotion that 
marks the students of that nation to their masters, living and 
dead. Not the least interesting parts of this work are the 
glimpses we get of the great teachers with whom he came 
in contact. What a model of a scientific man is shown in the 
character of Biot, so keenly alive to the interests of his young 
friend, whose brilliant career he followed with the devotion of 
a second father. One of the most touching incidents recorded 


in the book relates to Pasteur ^s election to the Academy of 
Sciences: — **The next morning when the gates of the Mont- 
parnasse cemetery were opened, a woman walked towards 
Biot's grave with her hands full of flowers. It was Mme. 
Pasteur who was bringing them to him . . . who had loved 
Pasteur with so deep an affection. '^ Pasteur looked upon the 
cult of great men as a great principle in national education. 
As he said to the students of the University of Edinburgh: — 
' * Worship great men " ; * and this reverence for the illustrious 
dead was a dominant element in his character, though the 
doctrines of Positivism seemed never to have had any attraction 
for him. A dark shadow in the scientific life is often thrown 
by a spirit of jealousy, and the habit of suspicious, carping 
criticism. The hall-mark of a small mind, this spirit should 
never be allowed to influence our judgment of a man's work, 
and to young men a splendid example is here offered of a man 
devoted to his friends, just and generous to his rivals, and 
patient under many trying contradictions and vexatious 

And the last great lesson is humility before the unsolved 
problems of the Universe. Any convictions that might be a 
comfort in the sufferings of human life had his respectful 
sympathy. His own creed was beautifully expressed in his 
eulogy upon Littre: — '*He who proclaims the existence of the 
Infinite, and none can avoid it — accumulates in that affirma- 
tion more of the supernatural than is to be found in all the 
miracles of all the religions; for the notion of the Infinite 
presents that double character that it forces itself upon us and 
yet is incomprehensible. When this notion seizes upon our 
understanding, we can but kneel. ... I see everywhere the 
inevitable expression of the Infinite in the world; through it, 
the supernatural is at the bottom of every heart. The idea 
of God is a form of the idea of the Infinite. As long as the 
mystery of the Infinite weighs on human thought, temples 
will be erected for the worship of the Infinite, whether God is 
called Brahma, Allah, Jehovah, or Jesus; and on the pavement 

* ^ great nation, said Disraeli, is e nation which produces great men. 


of those temples, men will be seen kneeling, prostrated, 
annihilated in the thought of the Infinite/' And modern 
Pantheism has never had a greater disciple, whose life and 
work set forth the devotion to an ideal — ^that service to 
hnmanity is service to God : — ' ' Blessed is he who carries within 
himself a God, an ideal, and who obeys it : ideal of art, ideal of 
science, ideal of the gospel virtues, therein lie the springs of 
great thoughts and great actions ; they all reflect light from the 

The future belongs to Science. More and more she will 
control the destinies of the nations. Already she has them 
in her crucible and on her balances. In her new mission to 
humanity she preaches a new gospel. In the nineteenth 
century renaissance she has had great apostles, Darwin, for 
example, whose gifts of heart and head were in equal measure, 
but after re-reading for the third or fourth time the Life of 
Louis Pasteur, I am of the opinion, expressed recently by the 
anonymous writer of a beautiful tribute in the Spectator, 
*'that he was the most perfect man who has ever entered the 
Kingdom of Science." 

WilliAjji Oslee, 


Xntroduction by Sir William Osier, Bart., M.D., F.R^., v. 



Origin of the Pasteur Family, 1 — Jean Joseph Pasteur, a Conscript in 
1811; Sergeant-major in the 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3; a Knight 
of the Legion of Honour, 4; his Marriage, 5; the Tannery at Dole, 
6 — ^Birth of Louis Pasteur, his Childhood and Youth, 6. Studies in 
Arbois College, 7. Departure for Paris, 11. Arrival in Paris, Hi 
the Barbet Boarding feehool. Home Sickness, 11. Return to Jura, 
Pasteur a Portrait Painter, 12; enters Bescangon Royal College, 13; 
k Bachelier &s Lettres, a Preparation Master, 14; his Readings, 15. 
Friendship with Chappuis, 18; a Bachelier ^s Sciences, 20; Pasteur 
admitted to the Ecole Normale, 22; Sorbonne Lectures, Impressioa 
produced by J. B. Dumas, 21. 



First Crystallographic Researches, 26; Pasteur a Curator in Balard's 
Laboratory, works with Auguste Laurent, 32. Chemistry and 
Physics Theses, 34. Pasteur reads a Paper at the Academie des 
Sciences, 36. February days, 1848, 37. Molecular Dissymmetry, 
38; J. J. Blot's Emotion at Pasteur's first Discovery, 41. Pasteur 
Professor of Physics at Dijon, 43. Professor of Chemistry at the 
Strasburg Faculty, his Friend Bertin, 45; M. Laurent, Rector oi 
the Strasburg Academy, 47; Pasteur's Marriage, 51. 



Disgrace of the Strasburg Rector, 54. Letter from Biot to Pasteur's 
Father, 57. Letter from J. B. Dumas, 60. Interview with Mitscher* 
lich, 61. Pasteur in quest of Racemic Acid, in Germany, Austria 
and Bohemia, 62. Pasteur a Elnight of the Legion of Honour, 70, 
Blot's Congratulations, 70. Proposed Work, 72. 



Pasteur Dean of the new Lille Faculty, 75; his Teaching, 77; First 
Studies on Fermentations, 79. First Candidature for the Academy 


of Sciences, 81. Lactic Fermentation, 83. Pasteur Administrator 
of the Ecole Normftle, 84. Alcoholic Fermentation, 85. Death oi 
Pasteur's eldest Daughter, 86. 



So-called spontaneous Generation, 88. Polemics and Experimants, 92. 
Renewed Candidature for the Academic des Sciences, 100. Lectures 
on Crystallography, 102. Pasteur elected a Member of the Academie 
des Sciences, 103. Conversation with Napoleon III, 104. Lecture 
'at the Sorbonne on so-called spontaneous Generation, 106. Pasteur 
and the Students of the Ecole Normale, 109. Discussions raised 
by the question of spontaneous Generation, 111. Studies on 
Wine, 113. 



The Silkworm Disease; Pasteur sent to Alais, 115. Death of Jean 
Joseph Pasteur, 118. Return to Paris, 121; Pasteur's Article on 
J. B. Dumas' Edition of Lavoisier's Works, 122. Death of his 
Daughter Camille, 123. Candidature of Ch. Robin for the Academie 
des Sciences, 124. Letters exchanged between Ste. Beuve and 
Pasteur, 124. The Cholera, 126. Pasteur at Compi^gne Palace, 
127. Return to the Card, 130; Pasteur's Collaborators, 130. Death 
of his Daughter Cecile, 131. Letters to Duruy, 131. Publication of 
the Studies on Wine, 133. Pasteur's Article on Claude Bernard's 
Work, 134. Pasteur's Work in the South of France, 138. Letter 
from Duruy, 139. Pasteur a Laureate of the Exhibition, 140; 
solemn Distribution of Rewards, 141. Ste. Beuve at the Senate, 
142. Disturbance at the Ecole Normale, 143. Pasteur's Letter to 
Napoleon III, 147. Lecture on the Manufacture of Vinegar at 
Orleans, 148. Council of Scientists at the Tuileries, 154. Studies 
on Silkworm Diseases (continued), 155. Heating of wises, 157. 
Paralytic Stroke, 160; Illness, 161; private Reading, 163. Enlarge- 
ment of the Laboratory, 164. Pasteur in the South, 166. Succesg 
of his Method of opposing Silkworm Diseases, 168. Pasteur at 
Villa Vicentina, Austria, 173. Interview with Liebig, 176. 



Pasteur in Strasburg, 177; the War, 179; Pasteur at Arbois, 180. The 
Academie des Sciences during the Si^e of Paris, 186. Pasteur 
returns his Doctor's Diploma to the Bonn Faculty of Medicine, 189. 
Retreat of Bourbaki's Army Corps, 192 j Pasteur at Pontarlier. 
192. Pasteur at Lyons, 194. "Why France found no superior Mea 


in the Hours of Peril," 194. Proposed Studies, 198. ProfessorsMp 
offered to Pasteur at Pisa, 200; his Refiosal, 200. The Prussians 
at Arbois, 201. Pasteur and his Pupil Raulin, 203. Pasteur at 
Clermont Ferrand; stays with his Pupil M. Duclaux, 206. Studies 
on Beer, 207. Visit to London Breweries, 210. Renewed Discus- 
sions at the Academic des Sciences, 216. 



Pasteur 'elected to the Academie de M6decine, 225. General Condition 
of Medicine, 226. Surgery before Pasteur, 234. Influence of his 
Work, 236. Letter from Lister, 238. Debates at the Academie de 
Medecine, 240; Science and Religion, 244. National Testimonial, 
245. Pasteur a Candidate for the Senate, 248. Speech at the Milan 
Congress of Sericiculture, 251. Letter from Tyndall, 252. Dis- 
cussion with Dr. Bastian, 253. 



Charbon, or Splenic Fever, 257; Pasteur studies it, 259. Traditional 
Medicine and Pastorian Doctrines, 263. Progress of Surgery, 266. 
The word Microbe invented, 266; renewed Attacks against Pasteur, 
267. Charbon given to Hens — experiment before the Academie de 
Medecine, 268. Pasteur's Note on the Germ Theory, 271. Cam- 
paign of Researches on Charbon, 275. Critical Examination of a 
posthumous Note by Claude Bernard, 281. Pasteur in the Hospitals, 
289; Puerperal Fever, 289. 



Chicken Cholera, 297. Attenuation of the Virus, 299. Suggested Re- 
searches on the Bubonic Plague, 301. The Share of Earthworms 
in the Development of Charbon, 304; an Incident at the Academie 
de Medecine, 309. The Vaccine of Charbon, 311; public Experiment 
at Pouilly le Fort on the Vaccination of Splenic Fever, 316. First 
Experiments on Hydrophobia, 318. Death of Sainte-Claire Deville, 
326; Pasteur's Speech, 327. Pasteur at the London Medical Con- 
gress, 329; Virchow and Anti-vivisection, 332. Yellow Fever, 338; 
Pasteur at Pauillac, 338. 



Pasteur elected a Member of the Academie Francaise, 341; his Opinions 
on Positivism, 342; J. B. Dumas and Nisard, his Sponsors, 344; 


Pasteur welcomed by Eenan in the Academie Frangaise, 346. 
Homage from Melun, from Aubenas, 350; Pasteur at Nimes and 
at Montpellier, 353. Speeeli of J. B. Dumas, 354; Pasteur's 
Answer, 355. Pasteur at the Geneva Conference of Hygiene, 358. 
Studies on the Eouget of Pigs — Journey to Bollene, 360. Typhoid 
Fever and the Champions of old Medical Methods, 364. Pasteur 
and the Turin Veterinary School, 308. Marks of Gratitude from 
Agriculturists, 372; Pasteur at Aurillac, 373. Another Testimonial 
of national Gratitude, 374; a commemorative Plate on the House 
where Pasteur was born, 374; his Speech at the Ceremony, 377. 
Cholera, 378; French Mission to Alexandria, 379. Death of 
Thuillier, 380. J. B. Dumas' last Letter to Pasteur, 383. Third 
Centenary of the University of Edinburgh — the French Delegation, 
384; Ovation to Pasteur, 386; Pasteur's Speech, 386. 



'Hie Hydrophobia Problem, 390; preventive Inoculations on Dogs, 395. 
Experiments on Hydrophobia verified by a Commission, 396. The 
Copenhagen ^Medical Congress, Pasteur in Denmark, 399. In- 
stallation at Villeneuve I'Etang of a Branch Establishment of 
Pasteur's Laboratory, 406. Former Remedies against Hydrophobia, 
407. Kennels at Villeneuve I'Etang, 410. 



First Antirabic Inoculation on Man, 414; the little Alsatian Boy, Joseph 
Meister, 415. Pasteur at Arbois; his Speech for the Welcome of 
Joseph Bertrand, succeeding J. B. Dumas at the Academie Fran- 
§aise, 418. Perraud the Sculptor, 421. Inoculation of the Shepherd 
Jupille, 422; the Discovery of the Preventive Treatment of Rabiea 
announced to the Academie des Sciences and the Academie de 
Medecine, 422. Death of Louise Pelletier, 426; Pasteur's Solici- 
tude for inoculated Pati'^nts, 427. Foundation of the Pasteur 
Institute, 428; the Russians from Smolensk, 429; English Commis- 
sion for the Verification of the Inoculations against Hydrophobia, 
430. Fete at the Trocadero, 431. Temporary Buildings in the Rue 
Vauquelin for the Treatment of Hydrophobia, 432. Ill-health of 
Pasteur, 433; his Stay at Bordighera, 434, Foundation of the 
Annals of the Pasteur Institute. 434. Discussions on Rabies at the 
Academie de Medecine, 434. Earthquake at Bordighera, 436. 
Pasteur returns to France, 437. Report of the English Commission 
on the Treatment of Rabies, 437. Pasteur elected Permanent 
Secretary of the Academie des Sciences, 439: his Resignation, 439. 
Inauguration of the Pasteur Institute, 440. 




influence of Pasteur's Labours, 445; his Jubilee, 447; Speech, 450. 
Pasteur's Name given to a District in Canada and to a Village in 
Algeria, 451. Diphtheria, M. Roux' Studies in Serotherapy, 453; 
Pasteur at Lille; Lecture by M. Roux on Serotherapy, 456; repeated 
at the Buda-Pestii Congress, 456. Subscription for the Organiza- 
tion of the Antidiphtheritic Treatment, 456. Pasteur's Disciples, 
457. Pasteur's Illness, 458; Visit from Alexandre Dumas, 460; 
Visit from former Ecole Normale Students, 460. Pasteur refuses a 
German Decoration, 461. Conversations with Chappuis, 462. De- 
parture for Villeneuve I'Etang, 462; last Weeks, 463. Project for 
a Pasteur Hospital, 464. Death of Pasteur, 464. 

JLSIU.61X ••» ••• ••• •••. •.».•> ••• .••• •«• 9n> 



The origin of even the humblest families can be traced 
back by persevering search through the ancient parochial 
registers. Thus the name of Pasteur is to be found written 
at the beginning of the seventeenth century in the old registers 
of the Priory of Mouthe, in the province of Franche Comt^. 
The Pasteurs were tillers of the soil, and originally formed a 
sort of tribe in the small village of Reculfoz, dependent on the 
Priory, but they gradually dispersed over the country. 

The registers of Mieges, near Nozeroy, contain an entry 
of the marriage of Denis Pasteur and Jeanne David, dated 
February 9, 1682. This Denis, after whom the line of 
Pasteur's ancestors follows in an unbroken record, lived in the 
village of Pl^nisette, where his eldest son Claude was bom in 
1683. Denis afterward sojourned for some time in the village 
of Douay, and ultimately forsaking the valley of Mieges came 
to Lemuy, where he worked as a miller for Claude Frangois 
Count of Udressier, a noble descendant of a secretary of the 
Emperor Charles V. 

Lemuy is surroimded by wide plains affording pasture for 
herds of oxen. In the distance the pine trees of the forest of 
Joux stand close together, like the ranks of an immense army, 
their dark masses deepening the azure of the horizon. It was 
in those widespreading open lands that Pasteur's ancestors lived. 
Near the church, overshadowed by old beech and lime trees, a 
tombstone is to be found overgrown with grass. Some 
members of the family lie under that slab naively inscribed: 
"Here lie, each by the side of the others . . ." 

In 1716, in the mill at Lemuy, ruins of which still exist, 
the marriage contract of Claude Pasteur was drawn up and 
signed in the presence of Henry Girod, Royal notary of Salins. 
The father and mother declared themselves unable to write, 



but we have the signatures of tlie affianced couple, Claude 
Pasteur and Jeanne Belle, affixed to the record of the quaint 
betrothal oath of the time. This Claude was in his turn a 
miller at Lemuy, though at his death in 1746 he is only 
mentioned as a labourer in the parish register. He had eight 
children, the youngest, whose name was Claude Etienne, and 
who was born in the village of Supt, a few kilometres from 
Lemuy, being Louis Pasteur's great-grandfather. 

What ambition, what love of adventures induced him to 
leave the Jura plains to come down to Salins? A desire for 
independence in the literal sense of the word. According to 
the custom then still in force in Franche Comte (in con- 
tradiction to the name of that province, as Voltaire truly 
remarks), there were yet some serfs, that is to say, people 
legally incapable of disposing of their goods or of their persons. 
They were part of the possessions of a nobleman or of the 
lands of a convent or monastery. Denis Pasteur and his son 
had been serfs of the Counts of Udressier. Claude Etienne 
desired to be freed and succeeded in achieving this at the age 
of thirty, as is proved by a deed, dated March 20, 1763, drawn 
up in the presence of the Royal notary, Claude Jarry. Messire 
Philippe-Marie-Francois, Count of Udressier, Lord of Ecleux, 
Cramans, Lemuy and other places, consented **by special 
grace'' to free Claude Etienne Pasteur, a tanner, of Salins, 
his serf. The deed stipulated that Claude Etienne and his 
unborn posterity should henceforth be enfranchised from the 
stain of mortmain. Four gold pieces of twenty-four livres 
were paid then and there in the mansion of the Count of 
Udressier by the said Pasteur. 

The following year, he married Frangoise Lambert. After 
setting up together a small tannery in the Faubourg Champ- 
tave they enjoyed the fairy tale ideal of happiness: they had 
ten children. The third, Jean Henri, through whom this 
genealogy continues, was born in 1769. On June 25, 1779, 
letters giving Claude Etienne Pasteur the freedom of the city 
of Salins were delivered to him by the Town Council. 

Jean Henri Pasteur, in his twentieth year, went to 
Besancon to seek his fortune as a tanner, but was not success- 
ful. His wife, Gabrielle Jourdan, died at the age of twenty, 
and he married again, but himself died at twenty-seven, 
leaving one little son by his first marriage, Jean Joseph 
Pa-^teur. born March 16, 1791. This child, who was to be 

1822—1843 3 

Louis Pasteur's father, was taken charge of by his grand- 
mother at Salins; later on, his father's sisters, one married to 
a wood merchant named Chamecin, and the other to Philibert 
Bourgeois, Chamecin 's partner, adopted the orphan. He was 
carefully brought up, but without much learning j it was 
considered sufficient in those days to be able to read the 
Emperor's bulletins; the rest did not seem to matter very 
much. Besides, Jean Joseph had to earn his living at the 
tanner's trade, which had been his father's and his grand- 
father's before him. 

Jean Joseph was drawn as a conscript in 1811, and went 
through the Peninsular War in 1812 and 1813. He belonged 
to the 3rd Regiment of the Line, whose mission was to pursue 
in the northern Spanish provinces the guerillas of the famous 
Espoz y Mina. A legend grew round this wonderful man; he 
was said to make his own gunpowder in the bleak mountain 
passes ; his innumerable partisans were supplied with arms and 
ammunition by the English cruisers. He dragged women and 
old men after him, and little children acted as his scouts. 
Once or twice however, in May, 1812, the terrible Mina was 
very nearly caught; but in July he was again as powerful as 
ever. The French had to orga,nize mobile columns to again 
occupy the coast and establish communications with France. 
There was some serious fighting. Mina and his followers were 
incessantly harassing the small French contingent of the 3rcl 
and 4th Regiments, which were almost alone. "How many 
traits of bravery," writes Tissot, ''will remain unknown which 
on a larger field would have been rewarded and honoured ! ' ' 

The records of the 3rd Regiment allow us to follow step by 
step this valiant little troop, and among the rank and file, 
doing his duty steadily through terrible hardships, that private 
soldier (a corporal in July, 1812, and a sergeant in October, 
1813) whose name was Pasteur. The battalion returned to 
France at the end of Januarj% 1814. It formed a part of that 
Leval division which, numbering barely 8,000 men, had to 
fight at Bar-sur-Aube against an army of 40,000 enemies. The 
3rd Regiment was called ''brave amongst the brave." "If 
Napoleon had had none but such soldiers," writes Thiers in 
his History of the Consulate and the Empire, "the result of 
that great struggle would certainly have been different." The 
Emperor, touched by so much courage, distributed! crosses 
among the men. Pasteur was made a sergeant-major on March 


10, 1814, and received, two days later, the cross of the Legion 
of Honour. 

At the battle of Arcis-sur-Aube (March 21) the Leval division 
had again to stand against 50,000 men — Russians, Anstrians, 
Bavarians, and Wurtembergers. Pasteur's battalion, the 1st 
of the 3rd Regiment, came back to St. Dizier and went on by 
forced marches to Fontainebleau, where Napoleon had con- 
centrated all his forces, arriving on April 4. The battaHon was 
now reduced to eight officers and 276 men. The next day, at 
twelve o'clock, the Leval division and the remnant of the 7th 
corps were gathered in the yard of the Cheval Blanc Inn and 
were reviewed by Napoleon. The attitude of these soldiers, 
who had heroically fought in Spain and in France, and who 
were still offering their passionate devotion, gave him a few 
moments' illusion. Their enthusiasm and acclamations con- 
trasted with the coldness, the reserve, the almost insubordina- 
tions of Generals like Ney, Lefebvre, Oudinot and MacDonald, 
who had just declared that to march on Paris would be folly. 

Marmont's defection hastened events; the Emperor, seeing 
himself forsaken, abdicated. Jean Joseph Pasteur had not, like 
Captain Coignet, the sad privilege of witnessing the Emperor's 
farewell, his battalion having been sent into the department of 
Eure on April 9. On April 23 the white cockade replaced the 

On May 12, 1814, a royal order gave to the 3rd line Regiment 
the name of ''Regiment Dauphin"; it was reorganized at 
Douai, where Sergeant-major Pasteur received his discharge 
from the service. He returned to Besangon with grief and 
anger in his heart: for him, as for many others risen from the 
people. Napoleon was a demi-god. Lists of victories, principles 
of equality, new ideas scattered throughout the nations, had 
followed each other in dazzling visions. It was a cruel trial 
for half-pay officers, old sergeants, grenadiers, peasant soldiers, 
to come down from this imperial epic to every-day monotony^ 
police supervision, and the anxieties of poverty; their wounded 
patriotism was embittered by feelings of personal humiliation. 
Jean Joseph resigned himself to his fate and went back to his 
former trade. The return from Elba was a ray of joy and hope 
in his obscure life, only to be followed by renewed darkness. 

He was living in the Faubourg Champtave a solitary life in 
accordance with his tastes and character when this solitude 
was interrupted for an instant. The Mayor of SaUns, a knighJr 

1822—1843 5 

of Malta and an ardent royalist, ordered all the late soldiers of 
Napoleon, the "brigands de la Loire" as they were now called, 
to bring their sabres to the Mairie. Joseph Pasteur reluctantly 
obeyed; but v/hen he heard that these glorious weapons were 
destined to police service, and would be used by police agents, 
further submission seemed to him intolerable. He recognized 
his own sergeant-major's sabre, which had just been given to 
an agent, and springing upon the man, wrested the sword 
from him. Great excitement ensued — a mixture of indigna- 
tion, irritation and repressed enthusiasm; the numerous Bona- 
partists in the town began to gather together. An Austrian 
regiment was at that time still garrisoned in the town. The 
Mayor appealed to the colonel, asldng him to repress this dis- 
obedience; but the Austrian officer refused to interfere, declar- 
ing that he both understood and approved the military feelings 
which actuated the ex-sergeant-major. Pasteur was allowed to 
keep his sword, and returned home accompanied by sympa- 
thizers who were perhaps more noisily enthusiastic than he 
could have wished. 

Having peacefully resumed his work he made the acquaint- 
ance of a neighbouring family of gardeners, whose garden faced 
his tannery on the other bank of the ' ' Furieuse, * ' a river rarely 
deserving its name. From the steps leading to the water Jean 
Joseph Pasteur often used to watch a young girl working in the 
garden at early dawn. She soon perceived that the *'old 
soldier*' — very young still; he was but twenty-five years old — 
was interested in her every movement. Her name was Jeanne 
Etiennette Roqui. 

Her parents, natives of Marnoz, a village about four kilo- 
metres from Salins, belonged to one of the most ancient 
plebeian families of the country. The Salins archives mention 
a Roqui working in vineyards as far back as 1555, and in 1659 
there were Roqui lampmakers and plumbers. The members of 
this family were in general so much attached to each other that 
*'to love like the Roqui" had become proverbial; their wills 
and testaments mentioned legacies or gifts from brother to 
brother, uncle to nephew. In 1815 the father and mother of 
Jeanne Etiennette were living very quietly in the old Salins 
faubourg. Their daughter was modest, intelligent and kind; 
Jean Joseph Pasteur asked for her hand in marriage. They 
neemed made for each other; the difference in their natures 
only strengthened their mutual affection; he was reserved. 


almost secretive, with a slow and careful mind apparently 
absorbed in bis own inner life; sbe was very active, full of 
imagination, and ready enthusiasm. 

The young couple migrated to Dole and settled down in the 
Rue des Tanneurs. Their first child only lived a few months ; 
in 1818 a little daughter came. Four years later in a small 
room of their humble home, on Friday, December 27, 1822, at 
2 a.m., Louis Pasteur was born. 

Two daughters were born later — one at Dole and the other 
at Marnoz, in the house of the Roqui. Jean Joseph Pasteur's 
mother-in-law, now a widow, considering that her great age no 
longer allowed her to administer her fortune, had divided all 
she possessed between her son Jean Claude Roqui, a landed 
proprietor at Marnoz, and Jeanne Etiennette her daughter. 

Thus called away from Dole by family interests, Jean Joseph 
Pasteur came to live at Marnoz. The place was not very 
favourable to his trade, though a neighbouring brook rendered 
the establishment of a tannery possible. The house, though 
many times altered, still bears the name of **Maison Pasteur^," 
On one of the inner doors the veteran, who had a taste for 
painting, had depicted a soldier in an old uniform now become 
a peasant and tilling the soil. This figure stands against a 
background of grey sky and distant hills; leaning on his spade 
the man suspends his labours and dreams of past glories. It is 
easy to criticize the faults in the painting, but the sentimental 
allegory is full of feeling. 

Louis Pasteur's earliest recollections dated from that time; 
he could remember running joyously along the Aiglepierre road. 
The Pasteur family did not remain long at Marnoz. A tannery 
was to let in the neighbourhood by the town of Arbois, near the 
bridge which crosses the Cuisance, and only a few kilometres 
from the source of the river. The house, behind its modest 
frontage, presented the advantage of a yard where pits had 
been dug for the preparation of the skins. Joseph Pasteur 
took this little house and settled there with his wife and chil- 

Louis Pasteur was sent at first to the ^'Ecole Primaire" 
attached to the college of Arbois. Mutual teaching was then 
the fashion; scholars were divided into groups: one child 
taught the rudiments of reading to others, who then spelt aloud 
in a sort of sing-song. The master, M. Renaud, went from 
group to group designating the monitors. Louis soon desired 

1822—1843 t 

to possess this title, perhaps all the more so because he was 
the smallest scholar. But those who would decorate the early 
years of Louis Pasteur with wonderful legends would be dis- 
appointed: when a little later he attended the daily classes at 
the Arbois college he belonged merely to the category of good 
average pupils. He took several prizes without much diffi- 
culty; he rather liked buying new lesson books, on the first 
page of which he proudly wrote his name. His father, who 
wished to instruct himself as well as to help his son, helped 
him with his home preparation. During holidays, the boy 
enjoyed his liberty. Some of his schoolfellows — ^Vercel, Char- 
riere, Guillemin, Coulon — called for him to come out with them 
and he followed them with pleasure. He delighted in fishing 
parties on the Cuisance, and much admired the net throwing 
di his comrade Jules Vercel. But he avoided bird trapping; 
the sight of a wounded lark was painful to him. 

The doors of Louis Pasteur's home were not usually open 
except to his schoolboy friends, who, when they did not fetch 
him away, used to come and play in the tannery yard with 
remnants of bark, stray bits of iron, etc. Joseph Pasteur, 
though not considered a proud man, did not easily make 
friends. His language and manners were not those of a 
retired sergeant; he never spoke of his campaigns and never 
entered a cafe. On Sundays, wearing a military-looking frock 
coat, spotlessly clean and adorned with the showy ribbon of the 
Legion of Honour (worn very large at that time), he invariably 
walked out towards the road from Arbois to Besancon. This 
foad passes between vine-planted hills. On the left, on a 
wooded height above the wide plain towards Dole, the ruins of 
the Vadans tower invest the whole landscape with a lingering 
glamour of heroic times. In these solitary meditations, he 
dwelt more anxiously on the future than on present difficulties, 
the latter being of little account in this hard-working family. 
"What would become of this son of his, conscientious and 
studious, but, though already thirteen years old, with no 
apparent preference for anything but drawing? The epithet 
of artist given to Louis Pasteur by his Arboisian friends only 
half pleased the paternal vanity. And yet it is impossible not 
to be struck by the realism of his first original effort, a very 
bold pastel drawing. This pastel represents Louis* mother, 
one morning that she was going to market, with a white cap 
and a blue and green tartan shawl. Her son insisted on painting 


her just as she was. The portrait is full of sincerity and noi 
unlike the work of a conscientious pre-Raphaelite. The power- 
ful face is illumined by a pair of clear straightforward eyes. 

Though they did not entertain mere acquaintances, the 
husband and wife were happy to receive those who seemed to 
them worthy of affection or esteem by reason of some superiority 
of the mind or of the heart. In this way they formed a friend- 
ship with an old army doctor then practising in the Arbois 
hospital, Dr. Dumont, a man who studied for the sake of 
learning and who did a great deal of good while avoiding 

Another familiar friend was a philosopher named Bousson 
de Mairet. An indefatigable reader, he never went out with- 
out a book or pamphlet in his pocket. He spent his life in 
compiling from isolated facts annals in which the character- 
istics of the Francs-Comtois, and especially the Arboisians, 
were reproduced in detail, with labour worthy of a Benedictine 
monk. He often came to spend a quiet evening with the 
Pasteur family, who used to question him and to listen to his 
interesting records of that strange Arboisian race, difficult to 
understand, presenting as it does a mixture of heroic courage 
and that slightly ironical good humour which Parisians and 
Southerners mistake for naiveness. Arboisians never distrust 
themselves, but are sceptical where others are concerned. They 
are proud of their local history, and even of their rodomontades. 

For instance, on August 4, 1830, they sent an address to 
the Parisians to express their indignation against the ^'Ordon- 
nances" ^ and to assure them that all the available population 
of Arbois was ready to fly to the assistance of Paris. In April, 
1834, a lawyer's clerk, passing one evening through Arbois by 
the coach, announced to a few gardes nationanx who were stand- 
ing about that the Republic was proclaimed at Lyons. Arbois 
immediately rose in arms; the insurgents armed themselves 
with guns from the Hotel de YiUe. Louis Pasteur watched the 

1 Ordonnances du 26 Juillet, 1830. A royal Decree issued by Charles X 
under the advice of his minister, Prince de Polignac; it was based on a 
misreading of one of the articles of the Charter of 1814, and dissolved 
the new Chamber of Deputies before it had even assembled; it sup- 
pressed the freedom of the Press and created a new electoral system 
to the advantage of the royalist party. These ordonnances were the 
cause of the 1830 Revoluticn, which placed Louis Philippe of Orleans on 
the Throne. [Trans.] 

1822— 1S43 9 

arrival from Besangon of 200 grenadiers, four squadrons of 
light cavalry, and a small battery of artillery sent to reduce the 
rebels. The sous-prefet of Poligny having asked the rioters 
who were their leaders, they answered with one voice, '*We 
are all leaders." A few days later the great, the good news 
was published in all the newspapers: ''Arbois, Lyons, and 
Paris are pacified." The Arboisians called their neighbours 
''the Braggarts of Salins, " probably with the ingenious inten- 
tion of turning such a well-deserved accusation from them- 

Louis Pasteur, whose mind already had a serious bent, 
preferred to these recent anecdotes such historical records as 
that of the siege of Arbois under Henry TV, when the Arbois- 
ians held out for three whole days against a besieging army of 
25,000 men. His childish imagination, after being worked 
upon by these stories of local patriotism, eagerly seized upon 
ideals of a higher patriotism, and fed upon th« glory of the 
French people as represented by the conquests of the Empire. 

He watched his parents, day by day working under dire neces- 
sity and ennobling their weary task by considering their 
children's education almost as essential as their daily bread; 
and, as in all things the father and mother took an interest in 
noble motives and principles, their material life was lightened 
and illumined by their moral life. 

One more friend, the headmaster of Arbois college, M. 
Romanet, exerted a decisive influence on Louis Pasteur's 
career. This master, who was constantly trying to elevate 
the mind and heart of his pupils, inspired Louis with great 
admiration as well as with respect and gratitude. Romanet 
considered that whilst instruction doubled a man's value, educa- 
tion, in the highest sense of the word, increased it tenfold. 
He was the first to discover in Louis Pasteur the hidden spark 
that had not yet revealed itself by any brilliant success in the 
hardworking schoolboy. Louis' mind worked so carefully that 
he was considered slow; he never affirmed anything of which 
he was not absolutelj^ sure ; but with all his strength and 
caution he also had vivid imaginative faculties. 

Romanet, during their strolls round the college playground, 
took pleasure in awakening with an educator's interest the 
leading qualities of this young nature — circiunspection and 
enthusiasm. The boy, who had been sitting over his desk 


with all-absorbing attention, now listened with sparkling eyes 
to the kind teacher talking to him of his future and opening to 
him the prospect of the great Ecole Normale} 

An officer of the Paris municipal guard, Captain Barbier, 
who always came to Arbois when on leave, offered to look after 
Louis Pasteur if he were sent to Paris. But Joseph Pasteur 
— in spite of all — hesitated to send his son, not yet sixteen 
years old, a hundred leagues away from home. "Would it not 
be wiser to let him go to Besangon college and come back to 
Arbois college as professor? What could be more desirable 
than such a position? Surely Paris and the Ecole Normale 
were quite unnecessary! The question of money also had to 
be considered. 

**That need not trouble you," said Captain Barbier. "In 
the Latin Quarter, Impasse des Feuillantines, there is a pre- 
paratory school, of which the headmaster, M. Barbet, is a 
Franc-Comtois. He will do for your son what he has done for 
many boys from his own country — that is, take him at reduced 
school fees." 

Joseph Pasteur at last allowed himself to be persuaded, and 
Louis' departure was fixed for the end of October, 1838. He 
v/as not going alone: Jules Vercel, his dear school friend, was 
also going to Paris to work for his * * baccalaureat. ' ' * This 
youth had a most happy temperament: unambitious, satisfied 
with each day's work as it came, he took pride and pleasure 
in the success of others, and especially in that of "Louis," as 
he then and always fraternally called his friendo The two 

1 Ecole 'Normale Sidpirieure, under the supervision of the Ministry ot 
Public Instruction and Fine Arts, founded in 1808 by Napoleon I, with 
the object of training young professors. Candidates must (1) be older 
than eighteen and younger than twenty -one; (2) pass one written and 
one viva voce examination; (3) be already in possession of their diploma 
as hachelier of science or of letters, according to the branch of studies 
which they wish to take up; and (4) sign an engagement for ten years' 
work in public instruction. The professors of the Ecole Normale take 
the title of Maitre des Conferences. [Trans.] 

2 Baccalaureat (low Latin hachalariatus) , first degree taken in a 
French Faculty; the next is licence, and the next doctorate. It is 
much more elementary than a bachelor's degree in an English university. 
There are two baccalaur^ats: (1) the baccalaureat es lettres required of 
candidates for the Faculties of Medicine and of Law, to the Ecole 
Normale Sup6rieure and to several public offices; (2) the baccalaureat 
es sciences, required for admission into the Schools of Medicine and of 
Pharmacy, to the Ecole Normale Sup^rieure (scientific section), and the 
Polytechnic, Military and Foresters' Schools. [Trans.] 

1822—1843 11 

boys' friendship went some way to alleviate the natural 
anxieties felt by both families. The slowness and difficulty of 
travelling in those days gave to farewells a sort of solemn sad' 
ness ; they were repeated twenty times whilst the horses were 
being harnessed and the luggage hoisted on to the coach in the 
large courtyard of the '* Hotel de la Poste." On that bleak 
October morning, amidst a shower of rain and sleet, the two 
lads had to sit under the tarpaulin behind the driver; there 
were no seats left inside or under the hood. In spite of 
Vercel's habit of seeing the right side of things and his joy in 
thinking that in forty-eight hours he, the country boy> would 
see the wonders of Paris — in spite of Pasteur's brave resolve 
to make the most of his unexpected opportunities of study, 
of the now possible entrance into the *'Ecole Normale" — 
both looked with heavy hearts at the familiar scene they were 
leaving behind them — their homes, the square tower of Arbois 
church, the heights of the Ermitage in the grey distance. 

Eveiy native of Jura, though he affects to feel nothing of the 
kind, has, at the bottom of his heart, a strong feeling of attach- 
ment for the corner of the world where he has spent his child- 
hood; as soon as he forsakes his native soil his thoughts return 
to it with a painful and persistent charm. The two boys did 
not take much interest in the towns where the coach stopped 
to change horses. Dole, Dijon, Auxerre, Joigny, Sens, Fon- 
tainebleau, etc. 

When Louis Pasteur reached Paris he did not feel like 
Balzac's student hero, confidently defjdng the great city. In 
spite of the strong will already visible in his pensive features, 
his grief was too deep to be reasoned away. No one at first 
suspected thi;^; he was a reserv^ed youth, with none of the 
desire to talk which leads weak natures to ease their sorrows 
by pouring them out; but, when all was quiet in the Impasse 
des Peuillantines and his sleeping comrades could not break 
in upon his regrets, he would lie awake for hours thinking of 
his home and repeating the mournful line — 

How endless unto watchful anguish 
Night doth seem. 

The students of the Barbet school attended the classes of 
the Lycee St. Louis. In spite of his willingness and his pas* 
sionate love of study, Louis was overcome with despair at being 
away from home. Never was homesickness more acute, **If 


I could only get a whiff of the tannery yard/' lie would say to 
Jules Vercel, **I feel I should be cured." M. Barbet en- 
deavoured in vain to amuse and turn the thoughts of this lad 
of fifteen so absorbed in his sorrow. At last he thought it his 
duty to warn the parents of this state of mind, which threatened 
to become morbid. 

One morning in November Louis Pasteur was told with an 
air of mystery that he was wanted. ' ' They are waiting for you 
close by," said the messenger, indicating a small cafe at the 
corner of the street. Louis entered and found a man sitting at 
a small table at the back of the shop, his face in his hands. It 
was his father. "I have come to fetch you," he said simply. 
No explanations were necessary ; the father and son understood 
each other's longings. 

What took place in Pasteur's mind when he found himself 
again at Arbois? After the first few days of relief and joy, did 
he feel, when he went back to Arbois college, any regret, not 
to say remorse, at not having overcome his homesickness? 
Was he discouraged by the prospect of a restricted career in 
that small town? Little is known of that period when his will 
had been mastered by his feelings; but from the indecision of 
his daily life we may hazard a guess at the disquieted state of 
his mind at this time. At the beginning of that year (1839) 
he returned for a time to his early tastes; he went back to his 
coloured chalks, left aside for the last eighteen months, ever 
since one holiday time when he had drawn Captain Barbier, 
proudly wearing his uniform, and with the high colour of ex- 
cellent health. 

He soon got beyond the powers of his drawing master, M. 
Pointurier, a good man who does not seem to have seen any 
scientific possibilities in the art of drawing. 

Louis' pastel drawings soon formed a portrait gallery of 
friends. An old cooper of seventy, Father Gaidot, born at 
Dole, but now living at Arbois, had his turn. Gaidot appears 
in a festive costume, a blue coat and a yellow waistcoat, very 
picturesque with his wrinkled forehead and close-shaven cheeks. 
Then there are all the members of a family named Roch. The 
father and the son are drawn carefully, portraits such as are 
often seen in country villages; but the two daughters Lydia 
and Sophia are more delicately pencilled ; they live again in the 
youthful grace of their twenty summers. Then we have a 
notary, the wide collar of i Irock coat framing his rubicund 

1822—1843 13 

face; a young woman in white; an old nun of eighty-two in a 
fluted cap, wearing a white hood and an ivory cross; a little 
boj of ten in a velvet suit, a melancholy-looking child, not 
destined to grow to manhood. Pasteur obligingly drew any 
one who wished to have a portrait. Among all these pastels, 
two are really remarkable. The first represents, in his official 
garb, a M. Blondeau, registrar of mortgages, whose gentle and 
refined features are perfectly delineated. The other is the por- 
trait of a mayor of Arbois, M. Pareau; he wears his silver- 
embroidered uniform, with a white stock. The cross of the 
Legion of Honour and the tricolour scarf are discreetly indi- 
cated. The whole interest is centred in the smiling face, with 
hair brushed up a la Louis Philippe, and blue eyes harmonizing 
with a blue ground. 

The compliments of this local dignitary and Romanet's 
renewed counsels at the end of the year — ^when Pasteur took 
more school prizes than he could carry — reawakened within 
him the ambition for the Ecole Normale. 

There was no "philosophy"^ class in the college of Arbois, 
and a return to Paris seemed formidable. Pasteur resolved 
to go to the college at Besancon, where he could go on with 
his studies, pass his baccalaureat and then prepare for the 
examinations of the Ecole Normale. Besancon is only forty 
kilometres from Arbois, and Joseph Pasteur was in the habit 
of going there several times a year to sell some of his prepared 
skins. This was by far the wisest solution of the problem. 

On his arrival at the Royal College of Franche Comte 
Pasteur found himself under a philosophy master, M. Daunas, 

1 Philosophie class. In French secondary schools or lyc6es the forms 
or classes, in Pasteur's time, were arranged as follows, starting from the 
bottom — 

1° huiti&me. 

2° septieme. 

6" sixieme (French grammar was begun). 

5"* cinquieme (Latin was begun). 

6° quatri&me (Greek was begun). 

7° troisi^me. 

8° seconde. 

> * .^ 

9® Mathematiques elementaires. Rh6torique. 

10° Mathematiques speciales. Philosophie. 

The seconde students who intended to pass their baccalaureat is 

sciences went into the mathematiques elementaires class, whilst those 

who were destined for letters or the law entered the rhetorique class, 

from which they went on to the philosophie class. I^Trans.] 


wlio had been a student at the Ecole Normals and was a 
graduate of the University; he was young, full of eloquence, 
proud of his pupils, of awakening their faculties and directing 
their minds. The science master, M. Darlay, did not inspire 
the same enthusiasm; he was an elderly man and regretted 
the good old times when pupils were less inquisitive. 
Pasteur's questions often embarrassed him. Louis' reputation 
as a painter satisfied him no longer, though the portrait he 
drew of one of his comrades was exhibited. ''All this does 
not lead to the Ecole Normale, " he wrote to his parents in 
January, 1840. "I prefer a first place at college to 10,000 
praises in the course of conversation. . . . We shall meet on 
Sunday, dear father, for I believe there is a fair on Monday. 
If we see M. Daunas, we will speak to him of the Ecole 
Normale. Dear sisters, let me tell you again, work hard, love 
each other. When one is accustomed to work it is impossible 
to do without it; besides, everything in this world depends on 
that. Armed with science, one can rise above all one's 
fellows. . . . But I hope all this good advice to you is super- 
fluous, and I am sure you spend many moments every day 
learning your grammar. Love each other as I love you, while 
awaiting the happy day when I shall be received at the Ecole 
Normale." Thus was his whole life filled with tenderness as 
well as with work. He took the degree of ''bachelier es 
lettres" on August 29, 1840. The three examiners, doctors 
**es lettres," put down his answers as *'good in Greek on 
Plutarch and in Latin on Virgil, good also in rhetoric, 
medicine, history and geography, good in philosophy, very 
good in elementary science, good in French composition." 

At the end of the summer holidays the headmaster of the 
Royal College of Besan§on, M. Repecaud, sent for him and 
offered him the post of preparation master. Certain adminis- 
trative changes and an increased number of pupils were the 
reason of this offer, which proved the master's esteem for 
Pasteur's moral qualities, his first degree not having been 
obtained with any particular brilliancy. 

The youthful master was to be remunerated from the month 
of January, 1841. A student in the class of special mathema- 
tics, he was his comrades' mentor during preparation time. 
They obeyed him without difficulty; simple and yet serious- 
minded, his sense of individual dignity made authority easy 
to him. Ever thoughtful of his distant home, he strengthened 

1822—1843 16 

the influence of the father and mother in the education of his 
sisters, who had not so great a love of industry, as he had. 
On November 1, 1840 — ^he was not eighteen yet — pleased to 
hear that they were making some progress, he wrote the follow- 
ing, which, though slightly pedantic, reveals the warmth of 
his feelings — *'My dear parents, my sisters, when I received 
at the same time the two letters that you sent me I thought 
that something extraordinary had happened, hut such was not 
the case. The second letter you wrote me gave me much 
pleasure; it tells me that — perhaps for the first time — my 
sisters have taUled, To will is a great thing, dear sisters, 
for Action and Work usually follow "Will, and almost always 
Work is accompanied by success. These three things. Will, 
Work, Success, fill human existence. Will opens the door to 
success both brilliant and happy; Work passes these doors, 
and at the end of the journey Success comes to crown one's 
efforts. And so, my dear sisters, if your resolution is firm, 
your task, be it what it may, is already begun ; you have but to 
walk forward, it will achieve itself. If perchance you should 
falter during the journey, a hand would be there to support 
you. If that should be wanting, God, who alone could take 
that hand from you, would Himself accomplish its work. . . . 
May my words be felt and understood by you, dearest sisters. 
I impress them on your hearts. May they be your guide. 
Farewell. Your brother.'' 

The letters he wrote, the books he loved, the friends he 
chose, bear witness to the character of Pasteur in those days 
of early youth. As he now felt, after the discouraging trial 
he had gone through in Paris, that the development of the will 
should hold the first place in education, he applied aU his efforts 
to the bringing out of this leading force. He was already 
grave and exceptionally matured; he saw in the perfecting of 
self the great law of man, and nothing that could assist in 
that improvement seemed to him without importance. Books 
read in early life appeared to him to have an almost decisive 
influence. In his eyes a good book was a good action con- 
tantly renewed, a bad one an incessant and irreparable fault. 

There lived at that time in Franche Comte an elderly writer, 
whom Sainte Beuve considered as the ideal of the upright man 
and of the man of letters. His name was Joseph Droz, and 
his moral doctrine was that vanity is the cause of many 
vrrecked and aimless lives, that moderation is a form of 


wisdom and an element of happiness, and tliat most men 
sadden and trouble their lives by causeless worry and agitation. 
His own life was an example of his precepts of kindliness and 
patience, and was filled to the utmost with all the good that a 
pure literary conscience can bestow; he was all benevolence 
and cordiality. It seemed natural that he should publish one 
after another numberless editions of his Essay on the Art of 
heing Happy. 

**I have still, ^* wrote Pasteur to his parents, ''that little 
volume of M. Droz which he was kind enough to lend me. 
I have never read anything wiser, more moral or more virtuous. 
I have also another of his works; nothing was ever better 
written. At the end of the year I shall bring you back these 
books. One feels in reading them an irresistible charm which 
penetrates the soul and fills it with the most exalted and 
generous feelings. There is not a word of exaggeration in 
what I am writing. Indeed I take his books with me to the 
eervices on Sundays to read them, and I believe that in so 
acting, in spite of all that thoughtless bigotry might say, I am 
conforming to the very highest religious ideas." 

Those ideas Droz might have summarized simply by 
Christ's words, ''Love ye one another.'* But this was a 
time of circumlocution. Young people demanded of books, 
of discourses, of poetry, a sonorous echo of their own secret 
feelings. In the writings of the Besangon moralist, Pasteur 
saw a religion such as he himself dreamed of, a religion free 
from all controversy and all intolerance, a religion of peace, 
love and devotion. 

A little later, Silvio Pellico's Miei Prigioni developed in him 
an emotion which answered to his instinctive sympathy for 
the sorrows of others. He wrote advising his sisters to read 
"that interesting work, where you breathe with every page a 
religious perfume which exalts and ennobles the soul." In 
reading Miei Pngioni his sisters would light upon a passage on 
fraternal love and all the deep feelings which it represents. 

"For my sisters," he wrote in another letter, "I bought, 
a few days ago, a very pretty book; I mean by very pretty 
something very interesting. It is a little volume which took 
the Montyon ^ prize a few years ago, and it is called, Picciola. 

1 Prix Montyon ; a series of prizes founded at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century by Baron de Montyon, a distinguished philanthropist, 
and conferred on literary works for their mo'ral worth, and on individuals 

1822—1843 17 

How could it have deserved the Monty on prize/' he added, 
with an edifying respect for the decisions of the Academy^ 
*'if the reading of it were not of great value?" 

*'You know," he announced to his parents when his 
appointment was definitely settled, **that a supplementary 
master has board and lodging and 300 francs a year!" This 
sum appeared to him enormous. He added, on January 20: 
*'At the end of this month money will already be owing to 
me; and yet I assure you I am not really worth it." 

Pleased with this situation, though such a modest one, full 
of eagerness to work, he wrote in the same letter: *'I find it 
an excellent thing to have a room of my own; I have more 
time to myseK, and I am not interrupted by those endless 
little things that the boys have to do, and which take up a 
good deal of time. Indeed I am already noticing a change 
in my work; diflSculties are getting smoothed away because I 
have more time to give to overcoming them; in fact I am 
beginning to hope that by working as I do and shall continue 
to do I may be received with a good rank at the Ecole. But 
do not think that I am overworking myself at all ; I take e very- 
recreation necessary to my health." 

Besides his ordinary work, he had been entrusted with 
the duty of giving some help in mathematics and physicai 
science to the youths who were reading for their baccalaureat. 

As if reproaching himself with being the only member ot 
the family who enjoyed the opportunity of learning, he offered 
to pay for the schooling of his youngest sister Josephine in a 
girls' college at Lons-le-Saulnier. He wrote, '*! could easily 
do it by giving private lessons. I have already refused to 
give some to several boys at 20 or 25 fr. a month. I refused 
because I have not too much time to give to my work." But 
he was quite disposed to waive this motive in deference to 
superior judgment. His parents promised to think over this 
fraternal wish, without however accepting his generous sugges- 
tion, offering even to supplement his small salary of 24 francs 
a month by a little allowance, in case he wished for a few 
private lessons to prepare himself more thoroughly for the 
Ecole Normale. They quite recognized his right to advise; 

for acts of private virtue or self-sacrifice. The laureates are chosen 
every year by the Acadgmia Jrangaise, and in this way many obscure 
heroes are deservedly rewarded, and many excellent books brought to 
public notice. [Trans.] 


and — as lie thouglit that Lis sister should prepare herself 
beforehand for the class she was to enter — ^he wrote to his 
mother with filial authority, ** Josephine should work a good 
deal until the end of the year, and I would recommend ta 
Mother that she should not continually be sent out on errands; 
she must have time to work." 

Michelet, in his recollections, tells of his hours of intimacy 
with a college friend named Poinsat, and thus expresses him* 
self: *'It was an immense, an insatiable longing for con- 
fidences, for mutual revelations." Pasteur felt something of 
the sort for Charles Chappuis, a philosophie student at 
Besancon college. He was the son of a notary at St. Vit, one 
of those old-fashioned provincial notaries, who, by the dignity 
of their lives, their spirit of wisdom, the perpetual preoccupa- 
tion of their duty, inspired their children with a sense of 
responsibility. His son had even surpassed his father's hopes. 
Of this generous, gentle-faced youth there exists a lithograph 
signed ** Louis Pasteur." A book entitled Les Graveurs du 
XIX^^ Steele mentions this portrait, giving Pasteur an un- 
expected form of celebrity. Before the Graveurs, the Guide 
de V Amateur des (Euvres d'Ari had already spoken of a 
pastel drawing discovered in the United States near Boston. 
It represents another schoolfellow of Pasteur's, who, far from 
his native land, carefully preserved the portrait of Chappuis 
as well as his own. Everything that friendship can give in 
strength and disinterestedness, everything that, according to 
Montaigne — ^who knew more about it even than Michelet — 
** makes souls merge into each other so that the seam which 
originally joined them disappears," was experienced by Pasteur 
and Chappuis. Filial piety, brotherly solicitude, friendly 
confidences — ^Pasteur knew the sweetness of all these early 
human joys; the whole of his life was permeated with them. 
The books he loved added to this flow of generous emotions. 
Chappuis watched and admired this original nature, which, 
with a rigid mind made for scientific research and always 
seeking the proof of everything, yet read Lamartine's 
Meditations with enthusiasm. Differing in this from many 
science students, who are indifferent to literature — ^just as some 
literature students affect to disdain science — Pasteur kept for 
literature a place apart. He looked upon it as a guide for 
general ideas. Sometimes he would praise to excess some 
writer or orator merely because he had found in one pa^e or 

1822—1843 19 

m one sentence the expression of an exalted sentiment. It 
tjyas with. Chappuis that he exchanged his thoughts, and 
together they mapped out a life in common. When Chappuis 
went to Paris, the better to prepare himself for the Ecole 
Normale, Pasteur felt an ardent desire to go with him. 
Chappuis wrote to him with that open spontaneity which is 
such a charm in youth, ''I shall feel as if I had all my Tranche 
Comte with me when you are here." Pasteur's father feared 
a crisis like that of 1838, and, after hesitating, refused his 
consent to an immediate departure. ''Next year," he said. 

In October, 1841, though still combining the functions of 
master and student, Pasteur resumed his attendance of the 
classes for special mathematics. But he was constantly think- 
ing of Paris, *' Paris, where study is deeper." One of 
Chappuis' comrades, Bertin, whom Pasteur had met during 
the holidays, had just entered the Ecole Normale at the head 
of the list after attending in Paris a class of special 

*'If I do not pass this year," Pasteur wrote to his father 
on November 7, "I think I should do well to go to Paris for 
a year. But there is time to think of that and of the means 
of doing so without spending too much, if the occasion should 
arise. I see now vhat great advantage there is in giving two 
vears to mathematics; ever\i:hin;]^ becomes clearer and easier. 
Of all our class students who tried this year for the Ecole 
Polytechnique and the Ecole Normale, not a single one has 
passed, not even the best of them, a student who had already 
done one yearns mathematics at Lyons. The master we have 
now is very good. I feel sure I shall do a great deal this year.'* 

He was twice second in his class; once he was first in 
physics. **That gives me hope for later on," he said. He 
Wrote about another mathematical competition, *'If I get a 
good place it will be well deserved, for this work has given me 
a pretty bad headache; I always do get one, though, whenever 
we have a competition." Then, fearful of alarming his 
parents, he hastily adds, ''But those headaches never last long, 
and it is only an hour and a half since we left off." 

Anxious to stifle by hard work his growing regrets at not 
lia\dng followed Chappuis to Paris, Pasteur imagined that he 
might prepare himself for the Ecole Polytechnique as well as 
for the Ecole Normale. One of his masters, M. Bouche, had 
led him to hope that he might be successful. *'I shall try thisi 


year for both schools/* Pasteur wrote to his friend (January 
22, 1842). ''I do not know whether I am right in deciding to 
do so. One thing tells me that I am wrong: it is the idea 
that we might thus be parted; and when I think of that, I 
firmly believe that I cannot possibly be admitted this year into 
the Ecole Polytechnique. I feel quite superstitious about it. 
I have but one pleasure, your letters and those from my family. 
Oh ! do write often, very long letters ! ' ' 

Chappuis, concerned at this sudden resolve, answered in 
terms that did credit to his heart and youthful wisdom. 
'^ Consult your tastes, think of the present, of the future. 
You must think of yourself; it is your own fate that you have 
to direct. There is more glitter on the one side; on the other 
the gentle quiet life of a professor, a trifle monotonous perhaps, 
but full of charm for him who knows how to enjoy it. You too 
appreciated it formerly, and I learned to do so when we thought 
we should both go the same way. Anyhow, go where you 
think you will be happy, and think of me sometimes. I hope 
your father will not blame me. I believe he looks upon me as 
your evil genius. These last holidays I wanted you to come to 
me, then I advised you to go to Paris; each time your father 
created some obstacle! But do what he wishes, and never 
forget that it is perhaps because he loves you too much that he 
never does what you ask him." 

Pasteur soon thought no more of his Polytechnic fancy, 
and gave himself up altogether to his preparation for the 
Ecole Normale. But the study of mathematics seemed to him 
dry and exhausting. He wrote in April, "One ends by having 
nothing but figures, formulas and geometrical forms before 
one's eyes. ... On Thursday I went out and I read a charm- 
ing story, which, much to my astonishment, made me weep. 
I had not done such a thing for years. Such is life." 

On August 13, 1842, he went up for his examination 
Cbaccalaureat es sciences) before the Dijon Faculty. He 
passed less brilliantly even than he had done for the 
haccalaureat es lettres. In chemistry he was only put down 
as *^ mediocre.** On August 26 he was declared admissible to 
the examinations for the Ecole Normale. But he was only 
fifteenth out of twenty-two candidates. He considered this 
ioo low a place, and resolved to try again the following year. 
In October, 1842, he started for Paris with Chappuis. On the 
eve of his departure Louis drew a last pastel, a portrait of hia 

1822—1843 21 

father. It is a powerful face, with, observation and meditation 
apparent in the eyes, strength and caution in the mouth and 

Pasteur arrived at the Barbet Boarding School, no longer 
a forlorn lad, but a tall student capable of teaching and engaged 
for that purpose. He only paid one-third of the pupil's fees, 
and in return had to give to the younger pupils some instruction 
in mathematics every morning from six to seven. His room 
was not in the school, but in the same Impasse des Feuillan- 
tines; two pupils shared it with him. 

*'Do not be anxious about my health and work,*' he wrote 
to his friends a few days after his arrival. *'I need hardly 
get up till 5.45; you see it is not so very early." He went 
on outlining the programme of his time. **I shall spend my 
Thursdays in a neighbouring library with Chappuis, who has 
four hours to himself that day. On Sundays we shall walk 
and work a little together; we hope to do some Philosophy 
on Sundays, perhaps too on Thursdays; I shall also read some 
literary works. Surely you must see that I am not homesick 
this time." 

Besides attending the classes of the Lycee St. Louis, he also 
went to the Sorbonne ^ to hear the Professor, who, after taking 
Gay-Lussac's place in 1832, had for the last ten years delighted 
his audience by an eloquence and talent which opened bound- 
less horizons before every mind. 

In a letter dated December 9, 1842, Pasteur wrote, *'I attend 
at the Sorbonne the lectures of M. Dumas, a celebrated 
chemist. You cannot imagine what a crowd of people come to 
these lectures. The room is immense, and always quite full. 
"We have to be there half an hour before the time to get a good 
place, as you would in a theatre ; there is also a great deal of 
applause; there are always six or seven hundred people." 

1 Sorbonne. Name given to the Paris Faculty of Theology and the 
buildings in which it was established. It was originally intended by its 
founder, Robert de Sorbon (who was chaplain to St. Louis, King of 
France, 1270) as a special establishment to facilitate theological studies 
for poor students. This college became one of the most celebrated in the 
world, and produced so many clever theologians that it gave its name to 
all the members of the Faculty of Theology. It was closed during the 
Revolution in 1789, and its buildings, which had been restored by 
Richelieu in the seventeenth century, were given to the University in 
1808. Since 1821 they have been the seat of the Universitarian Academy 
of Paris, and used for the lectures of the Faculties of Theology, of 
Letters, and of Sciences. [Trans.] 


Under this rostrum, Pasteur became, in his own words, i 
"disciple" full of the enthusiasm inspired by Dumas. 

Happy in this industrious life, he wrote in response to an 
expression of his parents' provincial uneasiness as to the 
temptations of the Latin Quarter. ''When one wishes to keep 
straight, one can do so in this place as well as in any other; it 
is those who have no strength of will that succumb.'* 

He made himself so useful at Barbet's that he was soon 
kept free of all expense. But the expenses of his Parisian life 
are set out in a small list made about t^at time. His father 
wished him to dine at the Palais Royal on Thursdays and 
Sundays with Chappuis, and the price of each of those dinners 
came to a little less than two francs. He had, still with the 
inseparable Chappuis, gone four times to the theatre and once 
to the opera. He had also hired a stove for his stone-floored 
room; for eight francs he had bought some firewood, and also a 
two-franc cloth for his table, which he said had holes in it, 
and was not convenient to write on. 

At the end of the school year, 1843, he took at the Lycee 
St. Louis two "Accessits," ^ and one first prize in physics, 
and at the ^'Concowrs General"^ a sixth "Accessit" in 
physics. He was admitted fourth on the list to the Ecole 
Normale. He then wrote from Arbois to M. Barbet, telling 
him that on his half-holidays he would give some lessons at 
the school of the Impasse des Feuillantines as a small token 
of his gratitude for past kindness. "My dear Pasteur," 
answered M. Barbet, "I accept with pleasure the offer you 
have made me to give to my school some of the leisure that 
you will have during your stay at the Ecole Normale. It will 
indeed be a means of frequent and intimate intercourse 
between us, in which we shall both find much advantage." 

Pasteur was in such a hurry to enter the Ecole Normale 
that he arrived in Paris some days before the other students. 
He solicited permission to come in as another might have 
begged permission to come out. He was readily allowed to 
sleep in the empty dormitory. His first visit was to M. Barbet. 
The Thursday half-holiday, usually from one to seven, was 

1 Accessit. A distinction accorded in French schools to those who 
have come nearest to obtaining the prize in any given subject. [Trans.] 

2 Concours G^n^ral. An open competition held every year at the Sor- 
bonne between the elite of the students of all the colleges in France, 
from the highest classes d.own to the quatrieme. [Trans.] 

1822—1843 23 

now from one to eight. ** There is nothing more simple," he 
said, "than to come regularly at six o'clock on Thursdays and 
give the schoolboys a physical science class." 

"I am very pleased," wrote his father, **that you are 
giving lessons at M. Barbet's. He has been so kind to us that 
I was anxious that you should show him some gratitude; be 
therefore always most obliging towards him. You should do 
so, not only for your own sake, but for others; it will 
encourage him to show the same kindness to other studious 
young men, whose future might depend upon it." 

Generosity, self-sacrifice, kindliness even to unknown 
strangers, cost not the least effort to the father and son, but 
seemed to them the most natural thing possible. Just as 
their little house at Arbois was transformed by a ray of the 
ideal, the broken down walls of the old Ecole Normale — then 
a sort of annex of the Louis Le Grand college, and looking, 
said Jules Simon, like an old hospital or barracks — reflected 
within them the ideas and sentiments which inspire useful 
Hves. Joseph Pasteur wrote (Nov. 18, 1843) : "The details 
you give me on the way your work is directed please me very 
much; everything seems organized so as to produce dis- 
tinguished scholars. Honour be to those who founded this 
School." Only one thing troubled him, he mentioned it in 
every letter. "You know how we worry about your health; 
you do work so immoderately. Are you not injuring your 
eyesight by so much night work? Your ambition ought to be 
satisfied now that you have reached your present position!" 
He also wrote to Chappuis: "Do tell Louis not to work so 
much; it is not good to strain one's brain. That is not the way 
to succeed but to compromise one's health." And with some 
little irony as to the cogitations of Chappuis the philosopher: 
"Believe me, you are but poor philosophers if you do not know 
that one can be happy even as a poor professor in Arbois 

Another letter, December, 1843, to his son this time: "Tell 
Chappuis that I have bottled some 1834 bought on purpose to 
drink the health of the Ecole Normale during the next holidays. 
There is more wit in those 100 Litres than in all the books on 
philosophy in the world; but, as to mathematical formulae, 
there are none, I believe. Mind you tell him that we shall 
drink the first bottle with him. Remain two good friends." 
Pasteur's letters during this first period at the Normale havpi 


been lost, but his biography continues without a break, thanks 
•*.o the letters of his father. * ' Tell us always about your studies, 
about your doings at Barbet's. Do you still attend M. Pouillet's 
lectures, or do you find that one science hampers the other? 
I should think not; on the contrary, one should be a help to 
the other." This observation should be interesting to a student 
of heredity; the idea casually mentioned by the father was to 
receive a vivid demonstration in the life-work of the son. 


Pasteur often spent his leisure moments in the library of 
the Ecole Normale. Those who knew him at that time remem- 
ber him as grave, quiet, almost shy. But under these reflec- 
tive characteristics lay the latent fire of enthusiasm. The 
lives of illustrious men, of great scientists, of great patriots 
inspired him with a generous ardour. To this ardour he added 
a great eagerness of mind; whether studying a book, even a 
commonplace one — for he was so conscientious that he did not 
even know what it was to ''skim" through a book — or coming 
away from one of J. B. Dumas' lectures, or writing his 
student's notes in his small fine handwriting, he was always 
thirsting to learn more, to devote himself to great researches. 
There seemed to him no better way of spending a holiday than 
to be shut up all Sunday afternoon at the Sorbonne laboratory 
or coaxing a private lesson from the celebrated Barruel, Dumas' 

Chappuis — anxious to obey the injunctions of Pasteur's 
father, who in every letter repeated ''Do not let him work 
too much!" desirous also of enjoying a few hours' outing with 
his friend — used to wait philosophically, sitting on a laboratory 
stool, until the experiments were over. Conquered by this 
patient attitude and reproachful silence Pasteur would take off 
his apron, saying half angrilj^ half gratefully, "Well, let us go 
for a walk." And, when they were out in the street, the same 
serious subjects of conversation would inevitably crop up — 
classes, lectures, readings, etc. 

One day, in the course of those long talks in the gardens of 
the Luxembourg, Pasteur carried Chappuis with him very far 
away from philosophy. He began to talk of tartaric acid and 
of paratartaric acid. The former had been known since 1770, 
thanks to the Swedish chemist Scheele, who discovered it in 



the thick crusty formations within wine barrels called '* tar- 
tar"; but the latter was disconcerting to chemists. In 1820 
an Alsatian manufacturer, Kestner, had obtained by chance, 
whilst preparing tartaric acid in his factory at Thann, a very 
singular acid which he was unable to reproduce in spite of 
various attempts. He had kept some of it in stock. Gay- 
Lussac, having visited the Thann factory in 1826, studied this 
mysterious acid; he proposed to call it racemic acid. Berzelius 
studied it in his turn, and preferred to call it paratartaric. 
Either name may be adopted; it is exactly the same thing: 
men of letters or in society are equally frightened by the word 
paratartaric or racemic. Chappuis certainly was when Pasteur 
repeated to him word for word a paragraph by a Berlin chemist 
and crystallographer named Mitscherlich. Pasteur had pon- 
dered over this paragraph until he knew it by heart; often 
indeed, absorbed in reading the reports for 1844 of the 
Academic des Sciences, in the dark room which was then the 
library of the Ecole Normale, he had wondered if it were pos- 
sible to get over a difficulty which seemed insurmountable to 
scientists such as Mitscherlich and Biot. This paragraph 
related to two saline combinations — tartrate and paratartrate 
of soda or ammonia — and may be epitomized as follows: in 
these two substances of similar crystalline form, the nature and 
number of the atoms, their arrangement and distances are the 
same. Yet dissolved tartrate rotates the plane of polarized 
light and paratartrate remains inactive. 

Pasteur had the gift of making scientific problems interest- 
ing in a few words, even to minds least inclined to that particu- 
lar line of thought. He rendered his listener's attention very 
easy; no question surprised him and he never smiled at ignO' 
ranee. Though Chappuis, absorbed in the series of lectures on 
philosophy given at that time by Jules Simon, was deep in a 
train of thought very far away from Mitscherlich 's perplexities, 
he gradually became interested in this optical inactivity of para- 
tartrate, which so visibly affected his friend. Pasteur liked to 
look back into the history of things, giving in this way a 
veritable life to his explanations. Thus, a propos of the optical 
phenomenon which puzzled Mitscherlich, Pasteur was speak- 
ing to his friend of crystallized carbonate of lime, called Iceland 
spar, which presents a double refraction — that is to say : if you 
look at an object through this crystal, you perceive two repro- 
ductions of that object. In describing this, Pasteur was not 

1844—1849 27 

giving to Chappuis a vague notion of some piece of crystal 
in a glass case, but was absolutely evoking a vision of the beauti- 
ful crystal, perfectly pure and transparent, brought from Ice- 
land in 1669 to a Danish physicist. Pasteur almost seemed to 
experience the surprise and emotion of this scientist, when, 
observing a ray of light through this crystal, he saw it sud- 
denly duplicated. Pasteur also spoke enthusiastically of an 
officer of Engineers under the First Empire, Etienne Louis 
Malus. Malus was studying double refraction, and holding in 
his hands a piece of spar crystal, when, from his room in the 
Rue de I'Enfer, it occurred to him to observe through the 
crystal the windows of the Luxembourg Palace, then lighted 
up by the setting sun. It was sufficient to make the crystal 
rotate slowly round the visual ray (as on an axis) to perceive 
the periodic variations in the intensity of the light reflected 
by the windows. No one had yet suspected that light, after 
being reflected under certain conditions, would acquire proper- 
ties quite different from those it had before its reflection. 
Malus gave the name of polarized light to light thus modified 
(by reflection in this particular case). Scientists admitted in 
those days, in the theory of emission, the existence of luminous 
molecules, and they imagined that these molecules "suffered 
ihe same effects simultaneously when they had been reflected 
on glass at a certain angle. . . . They were all turned in the 
same direction." Pouillet, speaking of this discovery of Malus 
in the class on physics that Pasteur attended, explained that 
the consequent persuasion was ''that those molecules had rota- 
tory axes and poles, around which their movements could be 
accomplished under certain influences." 

Pasteur spoke feverishly of his regrets that Malus should 
have died at thirty -seven in the midst of his researches; of 
Biot, and of Arago, who became illustrious in the path opened 
by Malus. He explained to Chappuis that, by means of a 
polarizing apparatus, it could be seen that certain quartz 
crystals deflected to the right the plane of polarized light, whilst 
others caused it to turn to the left. Chappuis also learned that 
some natural organic material, such as solutions of sugar or of 
tartaric acid, when placed in such an apparatus, turned to the 
Tight the plane of polarization, whilst others, like essence of 
turpentine or quinine, deflected it to the left; whence the ex» 
pression ''rotary polarization." 

These would seem dry researcho^, belo^'^ing altogether to 


tlie domain of science. And yet, thanks to the saccharimeter, 
which is a polarizing apparatus, a manufacturer can ascertain 
the quantity of pure sugar contained in the brown sugar of 
commerce, and a physiologist can follow the progress of 

Chappuis, who knew what powers of investigation his friend 
could bring to bear on the problem enunciated by Mitscherlich, 
thought with regret that the prospect of such examinations as 
that for the licence and for the agregation did not allow Pasteur 
to concentrate all his forces on such a special scientific point. 
But Pasteur was resolved to come back definitely to this sub- 
ject as soon as he should have become ^^doctev/r es sciences.'* 

When writing to his father he did not dwell upon tartrate 
and paratartrate ; but his ambition was palpable. He was ever 
eager to do double work, to go up for his examination at the 
very earliest. '* Before being a captain/' answered the old 
sergeant-major, **you must become a lieutenant.'* 

These letters give one the impression of living amongst 
those lives, perpetually reacting upon each other. The thoughts 
of the whole family were centred upon the great School, where 
that son, that brother, was working, in whom the hopes of 
each were placed. If one of his bulky letters with the large 
post mark was too long in coming, his father wrote to reproach 
him gently: *'Your sisters were counting the days. Eighteen 
days, they said! Louis has never kept us waiting so long! 
Can he be ill? It is a great joy to me," adds the father, "to 
note your attachment to each other. May it always remain so." 

The mother had no time to write much; she was burdened 
with all the cares of the household and with keeping the books 
of the business. But she watched for the postman with a 
tender anxiety increased by her vivid imagination. Her 
thoughts were ever with the son whom she loved, not with a 
selfish love, but for himself, sharing his happiness in that he 
was working for a useful career. 

So, between that corner in the Jura and the Ecole Normale, 
there was a continual exchange of thoughts; the smallest inci- 
dents of daily life were related. The father, knowing that he 
should inform the son of the fluctuations of the family budget, 
spoke of his more or less successful sales of leathers at the 
Besancon fair. The son was ever hunting in the progress of 
industry anything that could tend to lighten the father's heavy 
handicraft. But though the father declared himself ready io 

1844!— 1849 29 

examine Vauquelin *s new tanning process, wliicli obviated the 
necessity of keeping the skins so long in the pits, he asked 
himself with scrupulous anxiety whether leathers prepared in 
that way would last as long as the others. Could he safely 
guarantee them to the shoemakers, who were unanimous in 
praising the goods of the little tannery-yard, but alas equally 
unanimous in forgetting to reward the disinterested tanner by 
prompt payment? He supplied his family with the neces- 
saries of life : what more did he want 1 When he had news 
of his Nornialien he was thoroughly happy. He associated 
himself with his son's doings, sharing his enthusiasm over 
Dumas' lectures, and taking an interest in Pouillet's classes: 
Pouillet was a Franc-Comtois, and had been a student at the 
Ecole Normale ; he was now Professor of Physics at the Sor- 
bonne and a member of the Institut.^ When Balard, a 
lecturer at the Ecole, was nominated to the Academic des 
Sciences, Louis told his father of it with the delight of an 
admiring pupil. 

Like J. B. Dumas, Balard had been an apothecary's pupil. 
Wlien he spoke of their humble beginnings, Dumas was wont 
to say rather pompously — ''Balard and I were initiated into 
our scientific life under the same conditions." When, at the 
age of forty-two, he was made a member of the Institute, 
Balard could not contain his joy; he was quite a Southerner in 
his language and gestures, and the adjective exuberant might 
have been invented for him. But this same Southerner, ever 
on the move as he was, belonged to a special race: he always 
kept his word. '*! was glad to note your pleasure at this 
nomination," wrote Joseph Pasteur to his son; "it proves 

1 Institut de France. Name given collectively to the five following 
societies — 

1. Academie Frangaise, founded by Richelieu in 1635 in order to 
polish and maintain the purity of the French language. It is composed 
of forty Life members, and publishes from time to time a dictionary 
"which is looked upon as a standard test of correct French. 

2. Acddemie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, founded by Colbert iu 

3. Acad-emie des Sciences, also founded by Colbert in 1666. It has 
published most valuable reports ever since 1699. 

4. Acad-emie des Beaux-Arts, which includes the Academies of Paint- 
ing, of Sculpture, of ^lusic, and of Architecture. 

5. Academies des Sciences Morales et Politiques. 

It was in 1795 that these ancient academiee, which had been sup- 
pressed two years before by the Revolution, were reorganized and com- 
x-inpi} •♦•o^ethpr ^n ?orTt\ the Tnfififnt r!(> Frnncp. [Trana i 


that you are grateful tt> your masters." About that same time 
the headmaster of Arbois College, M. Eomanet, used to readi 
out to the older boys the letters, always full of gratitude, which, 
he received from Louis Pasteur. These letters reflected life 
in Paris, such as Pasteur understood it — a life of hard work 
and exalted ambition. M. Eomanet, in one of his replies, 
asked him to become librarian in partihus for the college and 
to choose and procure books on science and literature. The 
headmaster also begged of the young man some lectures for 
the rheiorique class during the holidays. **It would seem to 
the boys like an echo of the Sorbonne lectures! And you 
would speak to us of our great scientific men,'' added M. 
Romanet, ''amongst whom we shall one day number him who 
once was one of our best pupils and will ever remain one of 
our best friends." 

A corresponding member of Arbois College, and retained as 
vacation lecturer, Pasteur now undertook a yet more special 
task. He had often heard his father deplore his own lack of 
instruction, and knew well the elder man's desire for knowl- 
edge. By a touching exchange of parts, the child to whom 
his father had taught his alphabet now became his father's 
teacher; but with what respect and what delicacy did this filial 
master express himself ! "It is in order that you may be able 
to help Josephine that I am sending you this work to do. ' ' He 
took most seriously his task of tutor by correspondence; the 
papers he sent were not always easy. His father wrote (Jan. 
2, 1845) — "I have spent two days over a problem which I 
afterwards found quite easy; it is no trifle to learn a thing and 
teach it directly afterwards. ' ' And a month later : ' ' Josephine 
does not care to rack her brains, she says; however I promise 
you that you will be pleased with her progress by the next 

The father would often sit up late at night over rules of 
grammar and mathematical problems, preparing answers to 
send to his boy in Paris. 

Some Arboisians, quite forgotten now, imagined that they 
would add lustre to the local history. General Baron Delort, 
a peer of France,^ aide de camp to Louis Philippe, Grand Cross 

1 Peers of France. A supreme Council formed originally of the First 
Vassals of the Crown; became in 1420 one of the Courts of Parliament. 
In 1789 the Peerage was suppressed, hut reinstated in 1814 by th# 
Restoration, tvhen it again formed part of the Legislat've Corps; ther« 
were then hereditary peers and li^e-peers. If 1631 the hereditary 

1844—1849 bl 

of the Legion of Honour and the first personage in Arbois — 
where he beguiled his old age by translating Horace — used to 
go across the Cuisance bridge without so much as glancing at 
the tannery where the Pasteur family lived. Whilst the 
general in his thoughts bequeathed to the town of Arbois his 
books, his papers, his decorations, even his uniform, he was 
far from foreseeing that the little dwelling by the bridge would 
one day become the cynosure of all eyes. 

Months went by and happy items of news succeeded one 
another. The Narmalien was chiefly interested in the trans- 
formations cf matter, and was practising in order to become 
v^apable of assisting in experiments; difiSculties only stimulated 
him. At the chemistry class that he attended, the process of 
obtaining phosphorus was merely explained, on account of the 
length of time necessary to obtain this elementary substance; 
Pasteur, with his patience and desire for proven knowledge, 
was not satisfied. He therefore bought some bones, burnt 
them, reduced them to a very fine ash, treated this ash with 
sulphuric acid, and carefully brought the process to its close. 
What a triumph it seemed to him when he had in his posses- 
sion sixty grammes of phosphorus, extracted from bones, which 
he could put into a phial labelled ** phosphorus.** This was his 
first scientific joy. 

Whilst his comrades ironically (but with some discernment) 
called him a *' laboratory pillar," some of them, more intent 
upon their examinations, were getting ahead of him. — M. 
Darboux, the present "doyen" of the Faculty^ of Science, 
finds in the Sorbonne registers that Pasteur was placed 7th at 
the licence examination; two other students having obtained 
equal marks with him, the jury (Balard, Dumas and Delafosse), 
mentioned his name after theirs. 

Those who care for archives would find in the Journal 
General de VInstruction Publique of September 17, 1846, a 
report of the agregation^ competition (physical science). Out 

peerage was abolished and life-peers were nominated by the King undep 
certain restrictions. This House of Peers was suppressed in 1848, and 
in 1852 the Senate was instituted in its stead. [Trans.] 

1 Facultes, Government establishments for superior studies ; there are 
in France Faculties of Theology, of Law, of Medicine, of Sciences and 
of Letters, distributed among the larger provincial towns as well as in 
Paris. The administrator of a faculty is styled doyen (dean) and la 
chosen amciig the professors. [Trans.] 

^ Agregation. An annual competition for recruiting professors for 


of fourteen candidates only four passed and Pasteur was the 
third. His lessons on physics and chemistry caused the jury 
to say, *'He will make an excellent professor/' 

]\Iany Normaliens of that time fancied themselves called to 
a destiny infinitely superior to his. Some of them, in later 
times, used to complacently allude to this momentary 
superiority when speaking to their pupils. Of all Pasteur's 
acquaintances Chappuis was the only one who divined the 
future. "You will see what Pasteur will be,'* he used to say, 
with an assurance generally attributed to friendly partiality. 
Chappuis — Pasteur's confidant — ^was well aware of his friend's 
powers of concentration. 

Balard also realised this ; he had the happy idea of taking the 
young agrege into his laboratory, and intervened vehemently 
when the Minister of Public Instruction desired — a few months 
later — that Pasteur should teach physics in the Tournon Lycee. 
It would be rank folly, Balard declared, to send 500 kilometres 
away from Paris a youth who only asked for the modest title ot 
curator, and had no ambition but to work from morning till 
night, preparing for his doctor's degree. There would be time 
to send him away later on. It was impossible to resist this 
torrent of words founded on solid sense. Balard prevailed. 

Pasteur was profoundly grateful to him for preserving him 
from exile to the little town in Ardeche ; and, as he added to his 
Franc-Comtois patience and reflective mind a childlike heart 
and deep enthusiasm, he was delighted to remain with a master 
like Balard, who had become celebrated, at the age of twenty- 
four, as the discoverer of bromin. 

At the end of 1846, a newcomer entered Balard 's laboratory, 
a strange delicate-looking man, whose ardent eyes were at 
the same time proud and yet anxious. This man, a scientist 
and a poet, was a professor of the Bordeaux Faculty, named 
Auguste Laurent. Perhaps he had had some friction with his 
Bordeaux chiefs, possibly he merely wished for a change; at 
all events, he now desired to live in Paris. Laurent was 
already known in the scientific world, and had recently been 
made a correspondent of the Academic des Sciences. He had 
foreseen and confirmed the theory of substitutions, formulated 
by Dumas as early as 1834 before the Academic. Dumas had 

faculties and secondary schools or lycees. A candidate for the lyc6e% 
agregation must have passed Lis licence examination. [Trans.] 

1844—1849 33 

expressed himself thus: ** Chlorine possesses the singular 
power of seizing upon the hydrogen in certain substances, and 
of taking its place atom by atom.'' 

This theory of substitutions was — according to a simple and 
vivid comparison of Pasteur's — a way of looking upon chemical 
bodies as upon "molecular edifices, in which one element could 
be replaced by another without disturbing the structure of the 
edifice; as if one were to replace, one by one, every stone of a 
monument by a new stone." Original researches, new and 
bold ideas, appealed to Pasteur. But his cautious mind pre- 
vented his boldness from leading him into errors, surprises or 
hasty conclusions. '*That is possible," he would say, ''but 
we must look more deeply into the subject." 

When asked by Laurent to assist him with some experiments 
upon certain theories, Pasteur was delighted at this suggested 
collaboration, and wrote to his friend Qhappuis : ' ' Even if the 
work should lead to no results worth publishing, it wiU be 
most useful to me to do practical work for several months wi^h 
such an experienced chemist." 

It was partly due to Laurent, that Pasteur entered more 
deeply into the train of thought which was to lead him to 
grapple with Mitscherlich 's problem. "One day" (this 
is a manuscript note of Pasteur's) "one day it happened that 
M. Laurent — studying, if I mistake not, some tungstate of 
soda, perfectly crystallized and prepared from the directions of 
another chemist, whose results he was verifying — showed me 
through the microscope that this salt, apparently very pure, 
^as evidently a mixture of three distinct kinds of crystals, easily 
recognizable with a little experience of crystalline forms. The 
lessons of our modest and excellent professor of mineralogy, M. 
Delafosse, had long since made me love crystallography; so, in 
order to acquire the habit of using the goniometer, I began to 
carefuUy study the formations of a very fine series of combina- 
tions, all very easily crystallized, tartaric acid and the 
tartrates." He appreciated any favourable influence on his 
work ; we find in the same note : * ' Another motive urged me to 
prefer the study of those particular forms. M. de la Provos- 
taye had just published an almost comi)lete work concerning 
them; this allowed me to compare as I went along my own 
observations with those, always so precise, of that clever 
Bcientist. ' ' 

Pasteur and Laurent's work in common was interrupted. 


Laurent was appointed as Dumas* assistant at the Sorbonne. 
Pasteur did not dwell upon his own disappointment, but 
rejoiced to see honour bestowed upon a man whom he thought 
worthy of the first rank. Some judges have thought that 
Laurent, in his introductory lesson, was too eager to expound 
his own ideas; but is not every believer an apostle? When a 
mind is full of ideas, it naturally overflows. It is probable 
that Pasteur in Laurent's place would have kept his part as 
an assistant more in the background. He did not give vent to 
the slightest criticism, but wrote to Chappuis: ** Laurent's 
lectures are as bold as his writings, and his lessons are making 
a great sensation amongst chemists." Whether one of 
criticism or of approbation, this sensation was a living element 
of success. In order to answer some insinuations concerning 
Laurent's ambition and constant thirst for change, Pasteur 
proclaimed in his thesis on chemistry how much he had been 
** enlightened by the kindly advice of a man so distinguished, 
both by his talent and by his character.'' 

This essay was entitled '^ Researches into the saturation 
capacity of arsenious acid. A study of the arsenites of potash, 
soda and ammonia.'' This, to Pasteur's mind, was but school- 
boy work. He had not yet, he said, enough practice and 
experience in laboratory work. *'In physics," he wrote to 
Chappuis, **I shall only present a programme of some re- 
searches that I mean to undertake next year, and that I merely 
indicate in my essay." 

This essay on physics was a ''Study of phenomena relative 
to the rotatory polarization of liquids." In it he rendered full 
homage to Biot, pointing out the importance of a branch of 
science too much neglected by chemists; he added that it was 
most useful, in order to throw light upon certain difficult 
chemical problems, to obtain the assistance of crystallography 
and physics. "Such assistance is especially needed in the 
present state of science." 

These two essays, dedicated to his father and mother, were 
read on August 23, 1847. He only obtained one white ball and 
two red ones for each. '*We cannot judge of your essays," 
wrote his father, in the name of the whole family, *'but our 
satisfaction is no less great. As to a doctor's degree, I was far 
from hoping as much; all my ambition was satisfied with the 
agregation." Such was not the case with his son. 

1844—1849 35 

** Onwards'^ was his motto, not from a desire for a diploma, 
but from an insatiable thirst for knowledge. 

After spending a few days with his family and friends, he 
wanted to go to Germany with Chappuis to study German from 
morning till night. The prospect of such industrious holidays 
enchanted him. But he had forgotten a student's debt. "I 
cannot carry out my project," he sadly wrote, on September 
3, 1847; "I am more than ruined by the cost of printing my 
thesis. ' ' 

On his return to Paris he shut himself up in the laboratory. 
*'l am extremely happy. I shall soon publish a paper on 
crystallography." His father writes (December 25, 1847): 
''We received your letter yesterday; it is absolutely satisfac- 
tory, but it could not be otherwise coming from you; you have 
long, indeed ever, been all satisfaction to me." And in 
response to his son's intentions of accomplishing various tasks, 
fully understanding that nothing will stop him: **You are 
doing right to make for your goal ; it was only out of excessive 
affection that I have often written in another sense. I only 
feared that you might succumb to your work; so many noble 
youths have sacnficed their health to the love of science. 
Knowing you as I do, this was my only anxiety." 

After being reproved for excessive work, Louis was repri- 
manded for too much affection (January 1, 1848): **The 
presents you sent have just arrived; I shall leave it to your 
sisters to write their thanks. For my part, I should prefer 
a thousand times thftt this money should still be in your purse, 
and thence to a good restaurant, spent in some good meals 
that you might h^ve enjoyed with your friends. There are 
not many parents my dearest boy, who have to write such 
things to their son ; my satisfaction in you is indeed deeper than 
I can express." At the end of this same letter, the mother 
adds in her turn : ' ' My darling boy, I wish you a happy new 
year. Take great care of your health. . . . Think what a 
worry it is to me that I cannot be with you to look after you. 
Sometimes I try to console myself for your absence by thinking 
how fortunate I am in having a child able to raise himself to 
such a position as yours is — such a happy position, as it seems 
to be from your last letter but one." And in a strange sen- 
tence, where it would seem that a presentiment of her approach- 
ing death made worldly things appear at their true value: 


*' Whatever happens to you, do not grieve; nothing in life is 
more than a chimera. Farewell, my son.'* 

On March 20, 1848, Pasteur read to the Academic dee 
Sciences a portion of his treatise on ^'Researches on Dimorph- 
ism/' There are some substances which crystallize in two 
different ways. Sulphur, for instance, gives quite dissimilar 
crystals according to whether it is melted in a crucible or dis- 
solved in sulphide of carbon. Those substances are called 
dimorphous. Pasteur, kindly aided by the learned M. Dela- 
fosse (with his usual gratefulness he mentions this in the very 
first pages) had made out a list — as complete as possible — of 
all dimorphous substances. When M. Romanet, of Arbois 
College, received this paper he was quite overwhelmed. ''It 
is much too stiff for you," he said with an infectious modesty 
to Vercel, Charriere, and Coulon, Pasteur's former comrades. 
Perhaps the head master desired to palliate his own incom- 
petence in the eyes of coming generations, for on the title page 
of the copy of Pasteur's booklet still to be found in the Arbois 
library, he wrote this remark, which he signed with his initial 
R. : — * ' Dimorphisme ; this word is not even to be found in the 
Dictionnaire de VAcademie^' \l The approbation of several 
members of the Academic des Sciences compensated for the 
somewhat summary judgment of M. Romanet, whose good 
wishes continued to follow the rapid course of his old pupil. 

After this very special study, dated at the beginning of 1848, 
one might imagine the graduate-curator closing his ears to all 
outside rumours and little concerned with political agitation, 
but that would be doing him an injustice. Those who wit- 
nessed the Revolution of 1848 remember how during the early 
days France was exalted with the purest patriotism. Pasteur 
had visions of a generous and fraternal Republic; the words 
drapeau and patrie moved him to the bottom of his soul. 
Lamartine ^ as a politician inspired him with an enthusiastic 
confidence; he delighted in the sight of a poet leader of men. 
Many others shared the same illusions. France, as Louis 
Veuillot has it, made the mistake of choosing her band-master 

1 This celebrated poet took a large share in the Revolution of 1848, 
when his popularity became enormous. His political talents, however, 
apart from his wonderful eloquence, were less than mediocre, and he 
retired into private life within three years. 

His "Meditations," "Jocelyn," "Recueillements," etc., etc., are beau- 
tiful examples of lyrical poetry, and may be considered as forming part 
of the literature of the world. [Trans.] 

1844—1849 37 

as colonel of tne regiment. Enrolled with his fellow students, 
Pasteur wrote thus to his parents: *'I am writing from the 
Orleans Railway, where as a garde national ^ I am stationed. 
I am glad that I was in Paris diiring the February days ^ and 
that I am here still; I should be sorry to leave Paris just now. 
It is a great and sublime doctrine which is now being un- 
folded before our eyes . . . and if it were necessary I should 
heartily figh'. tor the holy cause of the Republic." ''What a 
transformation of our whole being!" has written one who 
was then a candidate to the Ecole Normale, already noted by 
his masters for his good sense, Prancisque Sarcey. **How 
those magical words of liberty and fraternity, this renewal of 
the Republic, born in the sunshine of our twentieth year, filled 
our hearts with unknown and absolutely delicious sensations! 
"With what a gallant joy we embraced the sweet and superb 
image of a people of free men and brethren ! The whole nation 
was moved as we were; like us, it had drunk of the intoxicat- 
ing cup. The honey of eloquence flowed unceasingly from the 
lips of a great poet, and France believed, in childlike faith, 
that his word was efficacious to destroy abuses, cure evils and 
soothe sorrows." 

One day when Pasteur was crossing the Place du Pantheon, 
he saw a gathering crowd around a wooden erection, decorated 
with the words: Autel de la Patrie, A neighbour told him 
that pecuniary offerings might be laid upon this altar. Pasteur 
goes back to the Ecole Normale, empties a drawer of all his 
savings, and returns to deposit it in thankful hands. 

1 Garde Nationale. A city militia, intended to preserve order and to 
maintain municipal liberties; it was improvised in 1789, and its first 
Colonel was General Lafayette, of American Independence fame. Its 
cockade united the Kingfs white to the Paris colours, blue and red, and 
thus was inaugurated the celebrated Tricolour. 

The National Guard was preserved by the Restoration, but Charles X 
disbanded it as being dangerously Liberal in its tendencies. It reformed 
itself of its own accord in 1830, and helped to overthrow the elder 
branch of Bourbon. It proved a source of disorder in 1848 and was re- 
organized under the second Empire, but, having played an active and 
disastrous part in the Commune (1871), it was disarmed and finally 
suppressed. [Trans.] 

2 February days. The Republicans liad organized a banquet in Paris 
for February 22, 1848. The Government prohibited it, with the result 
that an insurrection took place. Barricades were erected and some 
fighting ensued; on the 24th, the insurgents were masters of the situa- 
tion. Louis Philippe abdicated (vainly) in favour of his grajidson, the 
Ckante de Paris, and fled to England. [Trans.J, 


*^Toii say,'^ wrote his father on April 28, 1848, **that you 
have offered to France all your savings, amounting to 150 
francs. You have probably kept a receipt of the office where 
this payment was made, with mention of the date and place?'* 
And considering that this action should be made known, he 
advises him to publish it in the journal Le N actional or La 
Beforme in the following terms, ''Gift to the Patrie: 150 
francs, by the son of an old soldier of the Empire, Louis 
Pasteur of the Ecole Normale." He wrote in the same letter, 
**You should raise a subscription in your school in favour of 
the poor Polish exiles who have done so much for us; it would 
be a good deed." 

After those days of national exaltation, Pasteur returned to 
his crystals. He studied tartrates under the influence of 
certain ideas that he himself liked to expound. Objects con- 
sidered merely from the point of view of form, may be divided 
into two great categories. First, those objects which, placed 
before a mirror, give an image which can be superposed to 
them: these have a symmetrical plan; secondly, those which 
have an image which cannot be superposed to them: they are 
dissymmetrical. A chair, for instance, is symmetrical, or a 
straight flight of steps. But a spiral staircase is not sym- 
metrical, its own image cannot be laid over it. If it turns to 
the right, its image turns to the left. In the same way the 
right hand cannot be superposed to the left hand, a righthand 
glove does not fit a left hand, and a right hand seen in a mirror 
gives the image of a left hand. 

Pasteur noticed that the crystals of tartaric acid and the 
tartrates had little faces, which had escaped even the profound 
observation of Mitscherlich and La Provostaye. These faces, 
which only existed on one half of the edges or similar angles, 
constituted what is called a hemihedral form. "When the 
crystal was placed before a glass the image that appeared could 
not be superposed to the crystal; the comparison of the two 
hands was applicable to it. Pasteur thought that this aspect 
of the crystal might be an index of what existed within the 
molecules, dissj^mmetry of form corresponding with molecular 
dissymmetry. Mitscherlich had not perceived that his tartrate 
presented these little faces, this dissymmetry, whilst his para- 
tartrate was without them, was in fact not hemihedral. There- 
fore, reasoned Pasteur, the deviation to the right of the plane 
of polarization produced b^ tartrate and the optical neutrality 

184*4^1849 39 

of paratartrates would be explained by a structural law. The 
first part of these conclusions was confirmed ; all the crystals of 
tartrate proved to be hemihedral. But when Pasteur came 
to examine the crystals of paratartrate, hoping to find none of 
them hemihedral, he experienced a keen disappointment. The 
paratartrate also was hemihedral, but the faces of some of the 
crystals were inclined to the right, and those of others to the 
left. It then occurred to Pasteur to take up these crystals one 
by one and sort them carefully, putting on one side those which 
turned to the left, and on the other those which turned to the 
right. He thought that by observing their respective solutions 
in the polarizing apparatus, the two contrary hemihedral forms 
would give two contrary deviations; and then, by mixing to- 
gether an equal number of each kind, as no doubt MitscherUch 
had done, the resulting solution would have no action upon 
light, the two equal and directly opposite deviations exactly 
neutralizing each other. 

With anxious and beating heart he proceeded to this experi- 
ment with the polarizing apparatus and exclaimed, "I have 
it!'' His excitement was such that he could not look at the 
apparatus again; he rushed out of the laboratory, not unlike 
Archimedes. He met a curator in the passage, embraced him 
as he would have embraced Chappuis, and dragged him out 
with him into the Luxembourg garden to explain his discovery. 
Many confidences have been whispered under the shade of the 
tall trees of those avenues, but never was there greater or more 
exuberant joy on a young man's lips. He foresaw all the con- 
sequences of his discovery. The hitherto incomprehensible 
constitution of paratartaric or racemic acid was explained; he 
differentiated it into righthand tartaric acid, similar in every 
way to the natural tartaric acid of grapes, and lefthand tartaric 
acid. These two distinct acids possess equal and opposite rota- 
tory powers which neutralize each other when these two sub- 
stances, reduced to an aqueous solution, combine spontaneously 
in equal quantities. 

''How often," he wrote to Chappuis (May 5), whom he 
longed to have with him, ''how often have I regretted that we 
did not both take up the same study, that of physical science. 
We who so often talked of the future, we did not understand. 
"What splendid work we could have uiidertaken and would be 
undertaking now ; and what could we not have done united by 
the same ideas, the same love of science, the same ambition! 


I would we were twenty and with the three years of the Ecole 
before us!" Always fancying that he could have done more, 
he often had such retrospective regrets. He was impatient to 
begin new researches, when a sad blow fell upon him — ^his 
mother died almost suddenly of apoplexy. **She succumbed in 
a few hours," he wrote to Chappuis on May 28, **and when I 
reached home she had already left us. I have asked for a 
holiday." He could no longer work; he remained steeped in 
tears and buried in sorrow. For weeks his intellectual life 
was suspended. 

In Paris, in the scientific world perhaps even more than 
in any other, everything gets known, repeated, discussed. 
Pasteur's researches were becoming a subject of conversation. 
Balard, with his strident voice, spoke of them in the library at 
the Institute, which is a sort of drawing-room for talkative old 
Academicians. J. B. Dumas listened gravely; Biot, old Biot, 
then seventy-four years old, questioned the story with some 
scepticism. **Are you quite sure?" he would ask, his head a 
little on one side, his words slow and slightly ironical. He 
could hardly believe, on first hearing Balard, that a new doctor, 
fresh from the Ecole Normale, should have overcome a difficulty 
which had proved too much for Mitscherlich. He did not care 
for long conversations with Balard, and as the latter continued 
to extol Pasteur, Biot said, "I should like to investigate that 
young man's results." 

Besides Pasteur's deference for all those whom he looked 
upon as his teachers, he also felt a sort of general gratitude 
for their services to Science. Partly from an infinite respect 
and partly from an ardent desire to convince the old scientist, 
he wrote on his return to Paris to Biot, whom he did not know 
personally, asking him for an interview. Biot answered: ''I 
shall be pleased to verify your results if you will communicate 
them confidentially to me. Please believe in the feelings of 
interest inspired in me by all young men who work with 
accuracy and perseverance." 

An appointment was made at the College de France,^ where 
Biot lived. Every detail of that interview remained for ever 

1 College de France. An establishment of superior studies founded 
in Paris by Francis I in 1530, and where public lectures are given on 
lan^ages, literature, history, mathematics, physical science, etc. It 
was formerly independent, but is now under the jurisdiction of the 
Ministry of Public Instruction. [Trans.] 

1844—1849 41 

fixed in Pasteur's memory. Biot began by fetching some 
paratartaric acid. "I have most carefully studied it," he said 
to Pasteur; ''it is absolutely neutral in the presence of polarized 
light." Some distrust was visible in his gestures and audible 
in his voice. ''I shall bring you ever3rthing that is neces- 
sary," continued the old man, fetching doses of soda and 
ammonia. He wanted the salt prepared before his eyes. 

After pouring the liquid into a crystallizer, Biot took it into 
a corner of his room to be quite sure that no one would touch it. 
''I shall let you know when you are to come back," he said to 
Pasteur when taking leave of him. Forty-eight hours later 
some crystals, very small at first, began to form; when there 
was a sufficient number of them, Pasteur was recalled. Still in 
Biot's presence, Pasteur withdrew, one by one, the finest 
crystals and wiped off the mother-liquor adhering to them. He 
then pointed out to Biot the opposition of their hemihedral 
character, and divided them into two groups — left and right. 

''So you affirm," said Biot, "that your righthand crystals 
will deviate to the right the plane of polarization, and your 
lefthand ones will deviate it to the left?" 

"Yes," said Pasteur. 

"Well, let me do the rest." 

Biot himself prepared the solutions, and then sent again for 
Pasteur. Biot first placed in the apparatus the solution which 
should deviate to the left. Having satisfied himself that this 
deviation actually took place, he took Pasteur's arm and said 
to him these words, often deservedly quoted: "My dear boy, I 
have loved Science so much during my life, that this touches 
ny very heart." 

"It was indeed evident," said Pasteur himself in recalling 
this interview, "that the strongest light had then been thrown 
on the cause of the phenomenon of rotatory polarization 
and hemihedral crystals; a new class of isomeric substances 
was discovered; the unexpected and until then unexampled 
constitution of the racemic or paratartaric acid was revealed; 
in one word a great and unforeseen road was opened to science." 

Biot now constituted himself the sponsor in scientific matters 
of his new young friend, and undertook to report upon PasteUr's 
paper entitled: ^'Researches on the relations which may exist 
between crystalline form, chemical composition, and the 
direction of rotatory power' ^ — destined for the Academic des 


Biot did full justice to Pasteur; he even rendered him 
homage, and — not only in his own name but also in that of his 
three colleagues, Regnault, Balard, and Dumas — he suggested 
that the Academic should declare its highest approbation of 
Pasteur's treatise. 

Pasteur did not conceive greater happiness than his laboratory 
life, and yet the laboratories of that time were very unlike what 
they are nowadays, as we should see if the laboratories of the 
College de France, of the Sorbonne, of the Ecole Normale had 
been preserved. They were all that Paris could offer Europe, 
and Europe certainly had no cause to covet them. Nowadays 
the most humble college, in the smallest provincial town, would 
not accept such dens as the State offered (when it offered them 
any) to the greatest French scientists. Claude Bernard, 
Magendie^s curator, worked at the College de France in a regu- 
lar cellar. Wurtz only had a lumber-room in the attics of the 
Dupuytren Museum. Henri Sainto Claire Deville, before he be- 
came head of the Besancon Faculty, had not even as much ; he 
was relegated to one of the most miserable corners of the Rue 
Lafarge. J. B. Dumas did not care to occupy the unhealthy 
room reserved for him at the Sorbonne; his father-in-law, 
Alexandre Brongniart, having given him a small house in the 
Rue Cuvier, opposite the Jardin des Plantes, he had had it 
transformed into a laboratory and was keeping it up at his own 
expense. He was therefore comfortably situated, but he was 
exceptionally fortunate. Every scientist who had no private 
means tc draw upon had to choose between the miserable 
cellars and equally miserable garrets which were all that the 
State could offer. And yet it was more tempting than a Pro- 
fessor's chair in a College or even in a Faculty, for there one 
could not give oneself up entirely to one's work. 

Nothing would have seemed more natural than to leave 
Pasteur to his experiments. But his appointment to some 
definite post could no longer be deferred, in spite of Balard 's 
tumultuous activity. The end of the summer vacation was 
near, there was a vacancy: Pasteur was made a Professor of 
Physics at the Dijon Lycee. The Minister of Public Instruc- 
tion consented to allow him to postpone his departure until the 
beginning of November, in order to let him finish some work 
begun under the eye of Biot, who thought and dreamt of 
nothing but these new investigations. During thirty years 
Biot had studied the Dhenomena of rotatory polarization. He 

1844—1849 43 

aiad called the attention of chemists to these phenomena, but 
his call had been unheeded. Continuing his solitary labour, he 
had — in experimenting on cases both simple and complex — ■ 
studied this molecular rotatory power, without suspecting that 
this power bore a definite relation to the hemihedral form of 
some crystals. And now that the old man was a witness of a 
triumphant sequel to his own researches, now that he had the 
joy of seeing a young man wdth a thoughtful mind and an 
enthusiastic heart working with him, now that the hope of this 
daily collaboration shed a last ray on the close of his life, 
Pasteur's departure for Dijon came as a real blow. ''If at 
least," he said, "they were sending you to a Faculty!" He 
turned his wrath on to the Government Officials. ''They don't 
seem to realize that such labours stand above everything else! 
If they only knew it, two or three such treatises might bring a 
man straight to the Institut!" 

Nevertheless Pasteur had to go. M. Pouillet gave him a 
letter for a former Poly technician,^ now a civil engineer at 
Dijon, a M. Parandier, in which he wrote — 

"M. Pasteur is a most distinguished young chemist. He 
has just completed some very remarkable work, and I hope 
it will not be long before he is sent to a first-class Faculty. I 
need add nothing else about him; I know no more honest, 
industrious, or capable young man. Help him as much as you 
can at Dijon; you will not regret it." 

Those first weeks away from his masters and from his beloved 
pursuits seemed very hard to Pasteur. But he was anxious to 
prove himself a good teacher. This duty appeared to him to 
be a noble ideal, and to involve a wide responsibility. He felt 
none of the self satisfaction which is sometimes a source of 
strength to some minds conscious of their superiority to others. 
He did not even do himself the justice of feeling that he was 

1 Polytechnician. A student of the Ecole Polytechnique,, a military 
and engineering school under the jurisdiction of the Minister of War, 
founded in 1794. Candidates for admission must be older than sixteen 
and younger than twenty, but the limit of age is raised to twenty-five in 
the case of private soldiers and non-commissioned oflBcers. They must 
also have passed their haccalanreat es lettres or es sciences — preferably 
the latter. After two years' residence (compulsory) students pass a 
leaving examination, and are entered according to their list number 
as engineers of the Navy, Mines, or Civil Works, or as officers in the 
military Engineers or in the Artillery; the two last then have to go 
through one of the military training schools (Ecoles d'Application)* 
tTrana ] 


absolutely sure of his subject. He wrote to Chappuis (Novem- 
ber 20, 1848) : "I find that preparing my lessons takes up a 
i^reat deal of time. It is only when I have prepared a lesson 
very carefully that I succeed in making it very clear and capable 
of compelling attention. If I neglect it at all I lecture badly 
and become unintelligible." 

He had both first and second year pupils ; these two classed 
took up all his time and all his strength. He liked the second 
class; it was not a very large one. ''They all work," Pasteur 
wrote, ''some very intelligently." As to the first year class, 
what could he do with eighty pupils ? The good ones were kept 
back by the bad. "Don't you think," he wrote, "that it is a 
mistake not to limit classes to fifty boys at the most? It is 
with great difficulty that I can secure the attention of all 
towards the end of the lesson. I have only found one means, 
which is to multiply experiments at the last moment." 

Whilst he was eagerly and conscientiously giving himself up 
to his new functions — not without some bitterness, for he really 
Was entitled to an appointment in a Faculty, and he could not 
pursue his favourite studies — his masters were agitating on his 
behalf. Balard was clamouring to have him as an assistant at 
the Ecole Normale. Biot was appealing to Baron Thenard. 
This scientist was then Chairman of the Grand Council of the 
Universite.^ He had been a pupil of Yauquelin, a friend of 
Laplace, and a collaborator of Gay-Lussac; he had lectured 
during thirty years at the Sorbonne, at the College de France, 
and at the Ecole Polytechnique ; he could truthfully boast that 
he had had 40,000 pupils. He was, like J. B. Dumas, a born 
professor. But, whilst Dumas was always self possessed and 
dignified in his demeanour, his very smile serious, Thenard, 
a native of Burgundy, threw his whole personality into his work, 
a broad smile on his beaming face. 

He was now (1848) seventy years old, and the memory of his 

1 Universite. Tlie celebrated body known as University de Paris, and 
instituted by Philippe Auguste in 1200, possessed great privileges from 
its earliest times. It had the monopoly of teaching and a jurisdiction 
of its own. It took a share in public affairs on several occasions, and 
had long struggles to maintain against several religious orders. The 
Universite was suppressed by the Convention^ but re-organized by 
Napoleon I in 1808. It is now subdivided into sixteen Academies 
Vniversitaires, each of which is administered by a Rector. The title of 
Grand Master of the University always accompanies that of Minister of 
Public Instruction. [Trans.] 

1844<— 1849 4S 

fceaching, the services rendered to industry by his discoveries, 
the eclat of his name and titles contrasted with his humble 
origin, all combined to render him more than a Chancellor of 
the University; he was in fact a sort of Field Marshal of 
science, and all powerful. Three years previously he had much 
scandalized certain red-tape officials by choosing three very 
young men — Puiseux, Delesse, and H. Sainte Claire Deville — 
as professors for the new Faculty of Science at Besangon. He 
had accentuated this authoritative measure by making Sainte 
Claire Deville Dean of the Faculty. In the unknown professor 
of twenty-six, he had divined the future celebrated scientist. 

At the end of the year 1848 Pasteur solicited the place of 
assistant to M. Delesse, who was taking a long leave of absence. 
This would have brought him near Arbois, besides placing 
him in a Faculty. He asked for nothing more. Thenard, who 
had Biot's report in his hands, undertook to transmit to the 
I^Iinister this modest and natural request. He was opposed 
by an unexpected argument — the presentation of assistantships 
belonged to each Faculty. This custom was unknown to 
Pasteur. Thenard was unable to overcome this routine 
formality. Pasteur thought that the unanimous opinion of 
Thenard, Biot, and Pouillet ought to have prevailed. *'I can 
practically do nothing here,'* he wrote on the sixth of 
December, thinking of his interrupted studies. '*If I cannot 
go to Besancon, I shall go back to Paris as a curator." 

His father, to whom he paid a visit for the new year, per- 
suaded him to look upon things more calmly, telling him that 
wisdom repudiated too much hurry. Louis deferred to his 
father's opinion to the extent of writing, on January 2, 1849, 
to the Minister of Public Instruction, begging him to overlook 
his request. However, the members of the Institute who had 
taken up his cause did not intend to be thwarted by minor 
difficulties. Pasteur's letter was hardly posted when he 
received an assistantship, not at the BesanQon Faculty but at 
Strasburg, to take the place of M. Persoz, Professor of 
Chemistry, who was desirous of going to Paris. 

Pasteur, on his arrival at Strasburg (January 15) was 
welcomed by the Professor of Physics, his old school friend, 
the Franc-Comtois Bertin. ''First of all, you are coming to 
live with me," said Bertin gleefully. ''You could not do 
better; it is a stone's throw from the Faculte." By living 
with Bertin, Pasteur acquired a companion endowed with a 


rare combination of qualities — a quick wit and an affectionate 
heart. Bertin was too shrewd to be duped, and a malicious 
twinkle often lit up his kindly expression; with one apparently 
careless word, he would hit the weak point of the most self 
satisfied. He loved those who were simple and true, hence his 
affection for Pasteur. His smiling philosophy contrasted with 
Pasteur's robust faith and ardent impetuosity. Pasteur 
admired, but did not often imitate, the peaceful manner with 
which Bertin, affirming that a disappointment often proved to 
be a blessing in disguise, accepted things as they came. In 
order to prove that this was no paradox, Bertin used to tell 
what had happened to him in 1839, when he was mathematical 
preparation master at the College of Luxeuil. He was entitled 
to 200 francs a month, but payment was refused him. This 
injustice did not cause him to recriminate, but he quietly 
tendered his resignation. He went in for the Ecole Normale 
examination, entered the school at the head of the list, and 
subsequently became Professor of Phj^sics at the Strasburg 
Faculty. *'If it had not been for my former disappointment, 
I should still be at Luxeuil.'' He was now perfectly satisfied, 
thinking that nothing could be better than to be a Professor in 
a Faculty : but this absence of anv sort of ambition did not 
prevent him from giving his teaching the most scrupulous 
attention. He prepared his lessons with extreme care, en- 
deavouring to render them absolutely clear. He took great 
personal interest in his pupils, and often helped them with his 
advice in the interval between class hours. This excellent 
man's whole life was spent in working for others, and to be 
useful was ever to him the greatest satisfaction. 

Perhaps Pasteur was stimulated by Bertin 's example to give 
excessive importance to minor matters in his first lessons. He 
writes: '*I gave too much thought to the style of my two first 
lectures, and they were anything but good; but I think the 
subsequent ones were more satisfactory, and I feel I am im- 
proving." His lectures were well attended, for the numerous 
industries of Alsace gave to chemistry quite a place by itself. 

Everything pleased him in Strasburg save its distance from 
Arbois. He who could concentrate his thoughts for weeks, for 
months even, on one subject, who could become as it were a 
prisoner of his studies, had withal an imperious longing for 
family life. His rooms in Bex tin's house suited him all the 

1844—1849 47 

better that they were large enough for him to entertain one of 
his relations. His father wrote in one of his letters: **Yoii 
say that you will not marry for a long time, that you will a^ik 
one of your sisters to live with you. I could wish it for you 
and for them, for neither of them wishes for a greater happi- 
ness. Both desire nothing better than to look after your 
comfort; you are absolutely everything to them. One may 
meet with sisters as good as they are, but certainly with none 

Louis Pasteur's circle of dear ones was presently enlarged 
by his intimacy with another family. The new Rector of the 
Academy of Strasburg, M. Laurent, had arrived in Oct^^ber. 
lie was no relation to the chemist of the same name, and the 
place he was about to take in Pa.steur's life was much greater 
than that held by Auguste Laurent at the time when they were 
working together in Balard's laboratorj\ 

After having begun, in 1812, as preparation ma.ster in the 
then Imperial College of Louis le Grand, M. Laurent had 
become, in 1826, head master of the College of Riom. lie 
found at Riom more tutors than pupils; there were only three 
boys in the school ! Thanks to M. Laurent, those three soon 
became one hundred and thirty-four. From Riom he was sent 
to Gueret, then to Saintes, to save a college in imminent 
danger of disappearing; there were struggles between the 
former head master and the Mayor, the town refused the 
subsidies, all was confasion. Peace immediately followed his 
arrival. ''Those who have known him," wrote M. Pierron 
in the Revue de Vlnstniction Publique, *'wiU not be surprised 
at such miracles coming from a man so intelligent and so 
active, so clever, amiable, and warm-hearted." "Wherever he 
was afterwards sent, at Orleans, Angouleme, Douai, Toulouse, 
Cahors, he worked the same charm, bom of kindness. At 
Strasburg, he had made of the Academie a home where all the 
Faculty found a simple and cordial welcome. Madame 
Laurent was a modest woman who tried to efface herself, but 
whose qualities of heart and mind could not remain 
hidden. The eldest of her daughters was married to M. 
Zevort, whose name became doubly dear to the Universite. 
The two younger ones, brought up in habits of indastry and 
unselfishness which seemed natural to them, brightened th(3 
home by their youthful gaiety. 


When PasteuF on his arrival called on this family, he had 
the feeling that happiness lay there. He had seen at Arbois 
how, through the daily difficulties of manual labour, his parents 
looked at life from an exalted point of view, appreciating it 
from that standard of moral perfection which gives dignity 
and grandeur to the humblest existence. In this family — of 
a higher social position than his own — he again found the same 
high ideal, and, with great superiority of education, the same 
simple-mindedness. When Pasteur entered for the first time 
the Laurent family circle, he immediately felt the delightful 
impression of being in a thoroughly congenial atmosphere; a 
communion of thoughts and feelings seemed established after 
the first words, the first looks exchanged between him and 
his hosts. 

In the evening, at the restaurant where most of the younger 
professors dined, he heard others speak of the kindliness and 
strict justice of the Rector; and everyone expressed respect 
for his wonderfully united family. 

At one of M. Laurent's quiet evening **at homes," Bertin 
was saying to Pasteur, **You do not often meet with such a 
hard worker; no attraction ever can take him away from his 
work.'' The attraction now came, however, and it was such 
a powerful one that, on February 10, only a fortnight after his 
arrival, Pasteur addressed to M. Laurent the following official 
letter : — 

**An offer of the greatest importance to me and to your 
family is about to be made to you on my behalf; and I feel i^ 
my duty to put you in possession of the following facts, which 
may have some weight in determining your acceptance or 

*'My father is a tanner in the small town of Arbois in the 
Jura, my sisters keep house for him, and assist him with his 
books, taking the place of my mother whom we had the mis- 
fortune to lose in May last. 

**My family is in easy circumstances, but with no 
fortune; I do not value what we possess at more than 50,000 
francs, and, as for me, I have long ago decided to hand 
over to Tny sisters the whole of what should be my share. 
I have therefore absolutely no fortune. My only means 

1844—1849 49 

are good health, some courage, and my position in the 

*'I left the Ecole Normale two years ago, an agrege in 
physical science. I have held a Doctor's degree eighteen 
months, and I have presented to the Academie a few works 
which have been very well received, especially the last one, 
upon which a report was made which I now have the honour 
to enclose. 

*'This, Sir, is all my present position. As to the future, 
unless my tastes should completely change, I shall give myself 
up entirely to chemical research. I hope to return to Paris 
when I have acquired some reputation through my scientific 
labours. M. Biot has often told me to think seriously about 
the Institute; perhaps I may do so in ten or fifteen years' time, 
and after assiduous work; but this is but a dream, and not the 
motive which makes me love Science for Science's sake. 

*'My father will himself come to Strasburg to make this 
proposal of marriage. 

Accept, Sir, the assurance of my profound respect, etc. 
P.S. — I was twenty -six on December 27." 

A definite answer was adjourned for a few weeks. Pasteur, 
in a letter to Madame Laurent, wrote, "I am afraid that I^Ille. 
Marie may be influenced by early impressions, unfavourable to 
me. There is nothing in me to attract a young girl's fancy. 
But my recollections tell me that those who have known me 
very well have loved me very much." 

Of these letters, religiously preserved, fragments like the 
following have also been obtained. ''AH that I beg of you, 
Mademoiselle (he had now been authorised to address himself 
directly to her) is that you will not judge me too hastily, and 
therefore misjudge me. Time will show you that below my 
cold, shy and unpleasing exterior, there is a heart full of 
affection for you ! " In another letter, evidently remorseful 
at forsaking the laboratory, he says, *'I, who did so love my 
crystals ! ' ' 

He loved them still, as is proved by an answer from Biot to 
a proposal of Pasteur's. In order to spare the old man's 
failing sight, Pasteur had the ingenious idea of cutting out of 
pieces of cork, with exquisite skill, some models of crystalline 
types greatly enlarged. He had tinted the edges and faces, 


and nothing was easier than to recognize their hemihedral 
character. ''I accept with great pleasure,'* wrote Biot on 
April 7, "the offer you make me of sending me a small 
quantity of your two acids, with models of their crystalline 
t3T)es." He meant the righthand tartaric acid and the left- 
hand tartaric acid, which Pasteur— not to pronounce too hastily 
on their identity with ordinary tartaric acid— then called 
dextroracemic and Icevoracemic. 

Pasteur wished to go further; he was now beginning to 
study the crystallizations of formate of strontian. Comparing 
them with those of the paratartrates of soda and ammonia, 
surprised and uneasy at the differences he observed, he once 
exclaimed, ''Ah! formate of strontian, if only I had got you!" 
to the immense amusement of Bertin, who long afterwards 
used to repeat this invocation with mock enthusiasm. 

Pasteur was about to send these crystals to Biot, but th^ 
latter wrote, "Keep them until you have thoroughly investi- 
gated them. . . . You can depend on. my wish to serve you in 
every circumstance when my assistance can be of any use to 
you, and also on the great interest with which you have 

inspired me.'' 

Regnault and Senarmont had been invited by Biot to 
examine the valuable samples received from Strasburg, the 
dextroracemic and Isevoracemic acids. Biot wrote to Pasteur, 
"We might make up our minds to sacrifice a small portion of 
the two acids in order to reconstitute the racemic, but we doubt 
whether we should be capable of discerning it with certainty by 
those crystals when they are formed. You must show it us 
yourself, when you come to Paris for the holidays. Whilst 
arranging my chemical treasures, I came upon a small quantity 
of racemic acid which I thought I had lost. It would be 
sufficient for the microscopical experiments that I might 
eventually have to make. So if the small phial of it that you 
saw here would be useful to you, let me know, and I will 
willingly send it. In this, as in everything else, you will 
always find me most anxious to second you in your labours." 

This period was all happiness. Pasteur's father and his 
sister Josephine came to Strasburg. The proposal of marriage 
was accepted, the father returned to Arbois, Josephine stay- 
ing behind. She remained to keep house and to share the 
everyday life of her brother, whom she loved with a mixture of 

1844—1849 61 

pride, tenderness and solicitude. In her devoted sisterly 
generosity, she resigned herself to the thought that her happy 
dream must be of short duration. The wedding was fixed for 
May 29. 

**I believe,'' wrote Pasteur to Chappuis, ''that I shall be 
very happy. Every quality I could wish for in a wife I find 
in her. You will say, *He is in love!' Yes, but I do not 
think I exaggerate at all, and my sister Josephine quite agrees 
with me-" 



FitOM the very beginning Mme. Pasteur not only admitted, 
but approved, that the laboratory should come before every- 
thing else. She would willingly have adopted the typographic 
custom of the Academie des Sciences Reports, where the word 
Science is always spelt with a capital S. It was indeed 
impossible to live with her husband without sharing his joys, 
anxieties and renewed hopes, as they appeared day by day 
reflected in his admirable eyes-eyes of a rare grey-green colour 
like the sparkle of a Ceylon gem. Before certain scientific 
possibilities, the flame of enthusiasm shone in those deep eyes, 
and the whole stern face wa5 illumined. Between domestic 
happiness and prospective researches, Pasteur's life was com- 
plete But this couple, who had now shared everything for 
more than a year, was to suffer indirectly through the new 
law on the liberty of teaching. 

Devised by some as an effort at compromise between the 
Church and the University, considered by others as a scope for 
competition against State education, the law of 1850 brought 
into the Superior Council of Public Instruction four archbishops 
or bishops, elected by their colleagues. In each Department 
an Academy Council was insti+^ted, and, in this parcelling 
out of University jurisdiction, the right of presence was recog- 
nized as belonging to the bishop or his delegate. But all these 
advantages did not satisfy ^hose who called themselves 
Catholics before everything else. The rupture between Louis 
Veuillot on one side and, on the other, Falloux and Montalem- 
bert, the principal authors of this law, dates from that time. 

1 Departem^ts. The present divisions of French territory, numher 
in- eighty-seven in all. Each department is administered by a pr^fet, 
and subdivided into arrondissements, each of which has a aous-prSfei, 

1850— 1854 53 

''What we understood by the liberty of teacbing, ^ ' wrote 
Louis Veuillot, ''was not a share given to the Church, but the 
destruction of monopoly. ... No alliance with the University ! 
Away with its books, inspectors, examinations, certificates, 
diplomas! All that means the hand of the State laid on the 
liberty of the citizen; it is the breath of incredulity on the 
younger generation.'* Confronted by the violent rejection of 
any attempt at reconciliation and threatened interference with 
the University on the part of the Church, the Government was 
trying to secure to itself the whole teaching fraternity. 

The primary schoolmasters groaned under the heavy yoke 
of the prefects. ''These deep politicians only know how to 
dismiss. . . . The rectors will become the valets of the pre- 
fects ..." wrote Pasteur with anger and distress in a letter 
dated July, 1850. After the primary schools, the attacks now 
reached the colleges. The University was accused of attend- 
ing exclusively to Latin verse and Greek translations, and of 
neglecting the souls of the students. Romieu, who ironically 
idubbed the University "Alma Parens,'' and attacked it most 
bitterly, seemed hardly fitted for the part of justiciary. He 
was a former pupil of the Ecole Polytechnique, who wrote 
vaudevilles until he was made a prefect by Louis Philippe. 
He was celebrated for various tricks which amused Paris and 
disconcerted the Government, much to the joy of the Prince de 
Joinville,^ who loved such mystifications. After the fall of 
Louis Philippe, Romieu became a totally different personality. 
He had been supposed to take nothing seriously, he now put a 
tragic construction on everything. He became a prophet of 
woe, declaring that "gangrene was devouring the souls of 
eight year old children." According to him, faith, respect, all 
was being destroyed; he anathematized Instruction without 
Education, and stigmatized village schoolmasters as "obscure 
apostles" charged with "preaching the doctrines of revolt." 
This violence was partly oratory, but oratory does not minimize 
violence, it excites it. Every pamphleteer ends by being a 
bond-slave to his own phraseology. 

When Romieu appeared in Strasburg as an Envoy Extra- 
ordinary entrusted by the Government with a general inquiry, 
he found that M. Laurent did not answer to that ideal of a 

1 Prince de Joinville. Third son of Louis Philippe, and an Admiral 
in the French navy. It was he who waa sent to fetch Napoleon's remains 
irom St. Helena. [Trans.] 


functionary which was entertained by a certain party. M. 
Laurent had the very highest respect for justice; he distrusted 
the upstarts whose virtues were very much on the surface; he 
never decided on the fate of an inferior without the most pains- 
taking inquiry; he did not look on an accidental mistake as 
an unpardonable fault; he refused to take any immediate and 
violent measures: all this caused him to be looked upon with 
suspicion. ''The influence of the Rector" (thus ran Romieu's 
official report) "is hardlj^, if at all, noticeable. He should be 
replaced by a safe man." 

The Minister of Public Instruction, ]\I. de Parieu, had to 
bow before the formal wish of the Minister of the Interior, 
founded upon peremptory arguments of this kind. M. 
Laurent was offered the post of Rector at Chateauroux, a 
decided step downward. He refused, left Strasburg, and, with 
no complaint or recriminations, retired into private life at the 
age of fifty-five. 

It was when this happy family circle was just about to be 
enlarged that its quiet was thus broken into by this untoward 
result of political agitation. M. Laurent's youngest daughter 
soon after became engaged to M. Loir, a professor at the 
Strasburg Pharmaceutical School, who had been a student at 
the Ecole Normale, and who ultimately became Dean of the 
Faculty of Sciences at Lyons. He was then preparing, assisted 
by Pasteur, his ''thesis" for the degree of Doctor of Science. 
In this he announced some new results based on the simul- 
taneous existence of hemihedral crystalline forms and the 
rotatory power. He wrote, "I am happy to have brought 
new facts to bear upon the law that M. Pasteur has 
enunciated. ' ' 

"Why are you not a professor of physics or chemistry!" 
wrote Pasteur to Chappuis; "we should work together, and in 
ten years' time we would revolutionize chemistry. There are 
wonders hidden in crystallization, and, through it, the inmost 
construction of substances will one day be revealed. If you 
come to Strasburg, you shall become a chemist; I shall talk to 
you of nothing but crystals." 

The vacation was always impatiently awaited by Pasteur. 
He was able to work more, and to edit the result of his 
researches in an extract for the Academic des Sciences. On 
October 2 his friend received the following letter: "On 
Monday I presented this year's work to the *Institut ' I 

1850—1854 55 

read a long extract from it, and then gave a viva voce demon- 
stration relative to some crystaliographic details. This 
demonstration, which I had been specially desired to give, was 
4uite against the prevailing customs of the Academic. I gave 
it with my usual delight in that sort of thing, and it was 
followed with great attention. Fortunately for me, the most 
influential members of the Academic were present. M. Dumas 
sat almost facing me. I looked at him several times, and he 
expressed by an approving nod of his head that he understood 
and was much interested. He asked me to his house the next 
day, and congratulated me. He said, amongst other things, 
that I was a proof that when a Frenchman took up crystal- 
lography he knew what he was about, and also that if I 
persevered, as he felt sure I should, I should become the 
founder of a school. 

*'M. Biot, whose kindness to me is beyond all expression, 
came to me after my lecture and said, 'It is as good as it can 
possibly be.' On October 14 he will give his report on my 
work; he declares I have discovered a very California. Do 
not suppose I have done anything wonderful this year. This 
is but a satisfactory consequence of preceding work." 

In his report (postponed until October 28) Biot was more 
enthusiastic. He praised the numerous and unforeseen results 
brought out by Pasteur within the last two years. ''He 
throws light upon everything he touches," he said. 

To be praised by Biot was a rare favour; his diatribes were 
better known. In a secret committee of the Academic des 
Sciences (January, 1851) the Academic had to pronounce on 
the merits of two candidates for a professorship at the College 
de France : Balard, a professor of the Faculty of Science, chief 
lecturer of the Ecole Normale, and Laurent the chemist, who 
in order to live had been compelled to accept a situation as 
assayer at the Mint. Biot, with his halting step, arrived at 
the Committee room and spoke thus: "The title of Member 
of the Institute is the highest reward and the greatest honour 
that a French scientist can receive, but it does not constitute 
a privilege of inactivity that need only be claimed in order to 
obtain everything. . . . For several years, M. Balard has been 
in possession of two large laboratories where he might have 
executed any work dictated to him by his zeal, whilst nearly all 
M. Laurent's results have been effected by his unaided personal 
efforts at the cost of hea\T sacrifices. If you give the college 


vacancy to M. Balard, you will add nothing to the opportunities 
for study which he already has ; but it will take away from M. 
Laurent the means of work that he lacks and that we have 
now the opportunity of providing for hinL The chemical 
section, and indeed the whole Academy will easily juSge on 
which side are scientific justice and the interests of future 
progress. ' ' 

Biot had this little speech printed and sent a copy of it to 
Pasteur. The incident led to a warm dispute, and Biot lost 
his cause. Pasteur wrote to Chappuis, "M. Biot has done 
everything that was possible to do in order that M. Laurent 
should win, and the final result is a great grief to him. But 
really,'* the younger man added, more indulgent than the old 
man, and divided between his wishes for Laurent and the fear 
of the sorrow Balard would have felt, "M. Balard would not 
have deserved so much misfortune. Think of the disgrace it 
would have been to him if there had been a second vote favour- 
able to Laurent, especially coming from the Institute of which 
he is a member.'' At the end of that campaign, Biot in a fit 
of misanthropy which excepted Pasteur alone, and knowing 
that Pasteur had spoken with effusion of their mutual feelings, 
wrote to him a^ follows: **I am touched by your acknowledg- 
ment of my deep and sincere affection for you, and I thank you 
for it. But whilst keeping your attachment for me as I 
preserve mine for you, let me for the future rejoice in it in the 
secret recesses of my heart and of yours. The world is jealous 
of friendships however disinterested, and my affection for you 
is such that I wish people to feel that they honour themselves 
by appreciating you, rather than that they should know that 
you love me and that I love you. Farewell. Persevere in 
your good feelings as in your splendid career, and be happy. 
Your friend." 

The character of Biot, a puzzle to Sainte Beuve, seems easier 
to understand after reading those letters, written in a small 
conscientious hand. The great critic wrote: "Who will give 
us the secret key to Biot's complex nature, to the curiosities, 
aptitudes, envies, prejudices, sympathies antipathies, folds 
and creases of every kind in his character?" Even with no 
other documents, the history of his relations with Pasteur 
would throw light upon this nature, not so "complex" after 
aU. From the day when Pasteur worked out his first experi- 
ment before Biot, at first suspicious, then astonished and 

1850—1854 57 

finally touclied to the heart, until the period of absolute mutual 
confidence and friendship, we see rising before us the image of 
this true scientist, with his rare independence, his good-will 
towards laborio as men and his mercilessness to every man 
who, loving not Science for its own sake, looked upon a dis- 
covery as a road to fortune, pecuniary or political. 

He loved both science and letters, and, now that age had 
bent his tall form, instead of becoming absorbed in his own 
recollections and the contemplation of his own labours, he 
kept his mind open, happy to learn more every day and to 
anticipate the future of Pasteur. 

During the vacation of 1851 Pasteur came to Paris to bring 
Biot the results of new researches on aspartic and malic acids, 
and he desired his father to join him in order to efface the sad 
impression left by his former journey in 1838. Biot and his 
wife welcomed the father and son as they would have welcomed 
very few friends. Touched by so much kindness, Joseph 
Pasteur on his return in June wrote Biot a letter full of 
gratitude, venturing at the same time to send the only thing it 
was in his power to offer, a basket of fruit from his garden. 
Biot answered as follows: ''Sir, my wife and I very much 
appreciate the kind expressions in the letter you have done me 
the honour of writing me. Our welcome to you was indeed as 
hearty as it was sincere, for I assure you that we could not see 
without the deepest interest such a good and honourable father 
sitting at our modest table with so good and distinguished a son. 
I have never had occasion to show that excellent young man 
any feelings but those of esteem founded on his merit, and an 
affection inspired by his personality. It is the greatest pleasure 
that I can experience in my old age, to see j^oung men of talent 
working industriously and trying to progress in a scientific 
career by means of steady and persevering labour, and not by 
wretched intriguing. That is what has made your son dear to 
me, and his affection for me adds yet to his other claims and 
increases that which I feel for him. We are therefore even 


with one another. As to your kindness in wishing that I 
should taste fruit from your garden, I am very grateful for it, 
and I accept it as cordially as you send it.'* 

Pasteur had also brought Biot some other products — a case 
full of new crystals. Starting from the external configuration 
of crystals, he penetrated the individual constitution of their 
molecular groups. %nd from this point of departure, he then 


had recourse to the resources of chemistry and optics. Biol 
never ceased to admire the sagacity of the young experi- 
mentalist who had turned what had until then been a mere 
crystallographic character into an element of chemical research. 

Equally interested by the general consequences of these 
studies, so delicate and so precise, M. de Senarmont wished in 
his turn to examine the crystals. No one approved more fully 
than he the expressions of the old scientist, who ended in thia 
way his 1851 report: **If M. Pasteur persists in the road he 
has opened, it may be predicted of him that what he has found 
is nothing to what he will find." And, delighted to see the 
important position that Pasteur was taking at Strasburg and 
the unexpected extension of crystallography, Biot wrote to 
him: **I have read with much interest the thesis of your 
brother-in-law, M. Loir. It is well conceived and well written, 
and he establishes with clearness many very curious facts. M. 
de Senarmont has also read it with very great pleasure, and I 
beg you will transmit our united congratulations to your 
brother-in-law." Biot added, mixing as he was wont family 
details with scientific ideas: **We highly appreciated your 
father, the rectitude of his judgment, his firm, calm, simple 
reason and the enlightened love he bears you." 

*'My plan of study is traced for this coming year," wrote 
Pasteur to Chappuis at the end of December. "I am hoping 
to develop it shortly in the most successful manner. . e . I think 
I have already told you that I am on the verge of mysteries, 
and that the veil which covers them is getting thinner and 
thinner. The nights seem to me too long, yet I do not com- 
plain, for I prepare my lectures easily, and often have five 
whole days a week that I can give up to the laboratory. I 
am often scolded by Mme. Pasteur, but I console her by telling 
her that I shall lead her to fame." 

He already foresaw the greatness of his work. However 
he dare not speak of it, and kept his secret, save with the 
confidante who was now a collaborator, ever ready to act as 
secretary, watching over the precious health of which he him- 
self took no account, an admirable helpmeet, to whom might 
be applied the Roman definition, socia rei humanm at que divince. 
Never did life shower more affection upon a man. Everything 
at that time smiled upon him. Two fair children in the home, 
great security in his work, no enemies, and the comfort of 

1850—1854 59 

receiving the approval and coimsel of masters wlio inspired him 
with a feeling of veneration. 

**At my age,'* wrote Biot to Pasteur, **one lives only in 
the interest one takes in those one loves. You are one of the 
small number who can provide such food for my mind." And 
alluding in that same letter (December 22, 1851) to four reports 
successively approved of by Balard, Dumas, Regnault, 
Chevreul, Senarmont and Thenard: ''I was very happy to see, 
in those successive announcements of ideas of so new and so 
far-reaching a nature, that you have said — and that we have 
made you say — nothing that should now be contradicted or 
objected to in one single point. I still have in my hands the 
pages of your last paper concerning the optical study of malic 
acid. I have not yet returned them to you, as I wish to extract 
from them some results that I shaU place to your credit in a 
paper I am now writing." 

It was no longer Biot and Senarmont only who were watch- 
ing the growing importance of Pasteur's work. At the 
beginning of the year 1852 the physicist Regnault thought of 
^making Pasteur a corresponding member of the Institute. 
Pasteur was stiU under thirty. There was a vacancy in the 
General Physics section, why not offer it to him ? said Regnault, 
with hi* usual kindliness. Biot shook his head: *'It is to the 
Chemistry section that he ought to belong." And, with the 
courage of sincere affection, he wrote to Pasteur, *'Your work 
marks your place in chemistry rather than physics, for in 
chemis^Yy you are in the front rank of inventors, whilst in 
physics you have applied processes already known rather than 
invented new ones. Do not listen to people, who, without 
knowing the ground, would cause you to desire, and even to 
hastily obtain, a distinction which would be above your real 
and recognized claims. , . , Besides, you can see for yourself 
how much your work of the last four years has raised you in 
every one's estimation. And that place, which you have made 
for yourself in the general esteem, has the advantage of not 
being subject to the fluctuations of the ballot. Farewell, dear 
friend, write to me when you have time, and be assured that 
my interest in hard workers is about the only thing which yet 
makes me wish to live. Your friend." 

Pasteur gratefully accepted these wise counsels. In an 
excess of modesty, he wrote to Dumas that he should not apply 


as candidate even if a place for a correspondent were vacant in 
the Chemistry section. *'Do you then believe," answered 
-'Dumas with a vivacity very unlike his usual solemn calmness, 
"do you believe that we are insensible to the glory which your 
work reflects on French chemistry, and on the Ecole from 
whence you come? The very day I entered the Ministry, I 
asked for the Cross ^ for you. I should have had in giving it to 
you myself a satisfaction which you cannot conceive. I don't 
know whence the delay and difiiculty arise. But what I do 
know is that you make my blood boil when you speak in your 
letter of the necessity of leaving a free place in chemistry to 
the men you mention, one or two excepted. . . . What opinion 
have you then of our judgment? When there is a vacant 
place, you shall be presented, supported and elected. It is a 
question of justice and of the great interests of science : we 
shall make them prevail. . . , When the day comes, there will 
be means found to do what is required for the interests of 
science, of which you are one of the firmest pillars, and one of 
the most glorious hopes. Heartily yours." 

'*My dear father," wrote Pasteur, sending his father a copy 
of this letter, **I hope you will be proud of M. Dumas* letter^ 
It surprised me very much. I did not believe that my work 
deserved such a splendid testimony, though I recognize its 
great importance." 

Thus were associated in Pasteur the full consciousness of his 
great mental power with an extreme ingenuousness. Instead 
of the pride and egotism provoked, almost excusably, in so 
many superior men by excessive strength, his character pre- 
sented the noblest delicacy. 

Another arrangement occurred to Regnault: that he himself 
should accept the direction of the Sevres Manufactory, and 
give up to Pasteur his professorship at the Ecole Polytechnique. 
Others suggested that Pasteur should become chief lecturer at 
the Ecole Normale. Rumours of these possibilities reached 
Strasburg, but Pasteur's thoughts were otherwise absorbed. 
He was concerned with the manner in which he could modify 
the crystalline forms of certain substances which, though 
optically active, did not at the first view present the hemihedral 
character, and with the possibility of provoking the significant 
Caces by varying the nature of the dissolving agents. Biot was 

lOf tb6 Legion of Honour. 

1850— 185* 61 

anxious that he should not be disturbed in these ingenious 
researches, and advised him to remain at Strasburg in terms 
as vigorous as any of his previous advice. "As to the accidents 
which come from or depend on men's caprice, be strong- 
minded enough to disdain them yet awhile. Do not trouble 
about anything, but pursue indefatigably your great career. 
You will be rewarded in the end, the more certainly and un- 
questionably^ that you will have deserved it more fully. The 
lime is not far when those who can serve you efficiently will 
feel as much pride in doing so as shame and embarrassment 
In not having done so already." 

When Pasteur came to Paris in August, for what he might 
have called his annual pilgrimage, Biot had reserved for him a 
most agreeable surprise. Mitscherlich was in Paris, where 
he had come, accompanied by another German crystallog- 
rapher, G. Rose, to thank the Academie for appointing him 
a foreign Associate. They both expressed a desire to see 
Pasteur, who was staying in a hotel in the Rue de Tournon. 
Biot, starting for his daily walk round the Luxembourg 
Garden, left this note: ** Please come to my house to-morrow 
at 8 a.m., if possible with your products. M. Mitscherlich and 
M. Rose are coming at 9 to see them." The interview was 
lengthy and cordial. In a letter to his father — who now knew 
a great deal about crystals and their forms, thanks to Pasteur's 
lucid explanations — we find these words. **I spent two and a 
half hours with them on Sunday at the College de France, 
showing them my crystals. They were much pleased, and 
highly praised my work. I dined with them on Tuesday at M. 
Thenard's; you will like to see the names of the guests: 
Messrs. j\Iitscherlich, Rose, Dumas, Chevreul, Regnault, 
Pelouze, Peligot, C. Prevost, and Bussy. You see I was the 
only outsider, they are all members of the Academie. . . . But 
the chief advantage of my meeting these gentlemen is that I 
have heard from them the important fact that there is a 
manufacturer in Germany who again produces some racemic 
acid. I intend to go and see him and his products, so as to 
«tudy thoroughly that singular substance." 

At the time when scientific novels were in fashion, a whole 
chapter might have been written on Pasteur in search of that 
acid. In order to understand in a measure his emotion on 
learning that a manufacturer in Saxony possessed this 
/ovsterions aeid. we must remember that the racemic acid—" 


produced for the first time by Kestner at Thann in 1820^ 
through a mere accident in the manufacture of tartaric acid — • 
had suddenly ceased to appear, in spite of all efforts to obtain 
it again. What then was the origin of it? 

Mitscherlich believed that the tartars employed by this 
Saxony manufacturer came from Trieste. **I shall go tc 
Trieste,'^ said Pasteur; '*I shall go to the end of the worlds 
I must discover the source of racemic acid, I must follow up the 
tartars to their origin." Was the acid existent in crude 
tartars, such as Kestner received in 1820 from Naples, Sicily, 
or Oporto 1 This was all the more probable from the fact that 
from the day when Kestner began to use semi-refined tartars 
he had no longer found any racemic acid. Should one conclude 
that it remained stored up in the mother-liquor! 

With a feverish impetuosity that nothing could soothe, 
Pasteur begged Biot and Dumas to obtain for him a mission 
from the Ministry or the Academic. Exasperated by red tape 
delays, ht was on the point of writing directly to the President 
of the Republic. **It is a question,'' he said, *'that France 
should make it a point of honour to solve through one of her 
children." Biot endeavoured to moderate this excessive 
impatience. **It is not necessary to set the Government in 
motion for this," he said, a little quizzically. ''The Academy, 
when informed of your motives might very well contribute a 
few thousand francs towards researches on the racemic acid." 
But when Mitscherlich gave Pasteur a letter of recommendation 
.to the Saxony manufacturer, whose name was Fikentscher and 
who lived near Leipzig, Pasteur could contain himself no 
longer, and went off, waiting for nothing and listening to no one- 
His travelling impressions were of a peculiar nature. We will 
extract passages from a sort of diary addressed to Madame 
Pasteur so that she might share the emotions of this pursuit. 
He starts his campaign on the 12th September. "I do not 
stop at Leipzig, but go on to Zwischau, and then to M. 
Fikentscher. I leave him at nightfall and go back to him the 
«Lext morning very early. I have spent all to-day, Sunday, 
with him. M. Fikentscher is a very clever man, and he has 
shown me his whole manufactory in every detail, keeping no 
secrets from me. . . . His factory is most prosperous. It 
2omprises a group of houses which, from a distance, and 
♦ituated on a height as they are, look almost like a little village 

1850—1854! 63 

It is surrounded by 20 hectares ^ of well cultivated ground. 
All this is the result of a few years' work. As to the question, 
Uere is a little information that you will keep strictly to your- 
self for the present. M. Fikentscher obtained racemic acid 
fur the first time about twenty-two years ago. He prepared at 
that time rather a large quantity. Since then only a very small 
amount has been formed in the process of manufacture and he 
has not troubled to preserve it. When he used to obtain most, 
his tartars came from Trieste. This confirms, though not in 
every point, what I heard from M. Mitscherlich. Anyhow, 
here is my plan : Having no laboratory at Zwisehau, I have just 
returned to Leipzig with two kinds of tartars that M. 
Fikentscher now uses, some of which come from Austria, and 
some from Italy. M. Fikentscher has assured me that I 
should be very well received here by divers professors, who 
know my name very well, he says. To-morrow Monday morn- 
ing, I will go to the Universite and set up in some laboratory 
or other. I think that in five or six days I shall have finished 
my examination of these tartars. Then I shall start for 
Vienna, where I shall stay two or three days and rapidly study 
Hungai'ian tartars. . . . Finally I shall go to Trieste, where I 
shall find tartars of divers countries, notably those of the 
Levant, and those of the neighbourhood of Trieste itself. On 
arriving here at M. Fikentscher 's I have unfortunately dis- 
covered a very regrettable circumstance. It is that the tartars 
he uses have already been through one process in the country 
from which they are exported, and this process is such that it 
evidently eliminates and loses the greater part of the racemic 
acid. At least I think so. I must therefore go to the place 
itself. If I had enough money I should go on to Italy; but 
that is impossible, it wiU be for next year. I shall give ten 
years to it if necessary; but it will not be, and I am sure that 
in my very next letter I shall be able to tell you that I have 
some good results. For instance, I am almost sure to find a 
prompt means of testing tartars from the point of view of 
racemic acid. That is a point of primary importance for my 
work. I want to go quickly through examining all these 
different tartars; that wdll be my first study. . . . M. 
Fikentscher will take nothing for his products. It is true that 
[ have given him hints and some of my own enthusiasm. He 

1 flectaie: French measure of surface, about 2^4 acres. [Trans.] 

64j the life of PASTEiUR 

wants to prepare for commercial purposes some left tartaric 
acid, and I have given him all the necessary crystallographic 
indications. I have no doubt he wiU succeed.'^ 

Leipzig, Wednesday, Septemher 15, 1852. **My dear 
Marie, I do not want to wait until I have the results of my 
researches before writing to you again. And yet I have 
nothing to tell you, for I have not left the laboratory for three 
days, and I know nothing of Leipzig but the street which 
goes from the Hotel de Baviere to the Universite. I come 
home at dusk, dine, and go to bed. I have only received, 
in M. Erdmann's study, the visit of Professor Hankel, pro- 
fessor of physics of the Leipzig Universite, who has translated 
all my treatises in a German paper edited by M. Erdmann. 
He has also studied hemihedral crystals, and I enjoyed talking 
with him. I shall also soon meet the professor of mineralogy, 
M. Naumann. 

*' To-morrow only shall I have a first result concerning 
racemic acid. I shall stay about ten days longer in Leipzig. 
It is more than I told you, and the reason lies in rather a happy 
circumstance. M. Fikentscher has kindly written to me and to 
a firm in Leipzig, and I heard yesterday from the head of thai 
firm that, very likely, they can get me to-morrow some tartars 
absolutely crude and of the same origin as M. Fikentscher 's. 
The same gentleman has given me some information about a 
factory at Venice, and will give me a letter of recommendation 
to a firm in that city, also for Trieste. In this way the journey I 
proposed to make in that town will not simply be a pleasure 
trip. ... I shaU write to M. Biot as soon as I have important 
results. To-day has been a good day, and in about three or 
four more you will no doubt receive a satisfactory letter.'^ 

Leipzig, September 18, 1852. *'My dear Marie, the very 
question which has brought me here is surrounded with very 
great difficulties. ... I have only studied one tartar 
thoroughly since I have been here; it comes from Naples and 
has been refined once. It contains racemic acid, but in such 
infinitesimal proportions that it can only be detected by the 
most delicate process. It is only by manufacture on a very 
large scale that a certain quantity could be prepared. But I 
must tell you that the first operation undergone by this tartar 
must have deprived it almost entirely of racemic acid. For- 
tunately M. Fikentscher is a most enlightened man, he 
p'^T.fectly understands the importance of this acid and he is 

1850—1854 65 

prepared to follow most minutely the indications that I shall 
give him m order to obtain this singular substance in quantities 
such that it can again be easily turned into commercial use. 
I can already conceive the histoiy of this product. M. Kestner 
must have had at his disposal in 1820 some Neapolitan tartars, 
as indeed he said he had, and he must have operated on crude 
tartar. That is the whole secret. . . . But is it certain that 
almost the whole of the acid is lost in the first manufacture 
undergone by tartar? I believe it is. But it must be proved. 
There are at Trieste and at Venice two tartar refineries of 
which I have the addresses. I also have letters of introduction. 
I shall examine there (if I find a laboratory) the residual prod- 
ucts, and I shall make minute inquiries respecting the places 
the tartars used in those two cities come from. Finally, I shall 
procure a few kilogrammes, which I shall carefully study when 
I get back to France. . . J* 

Freiberg, September 23, 1852. "I arrived on the evening 
of the 21st at Dresden, and I had to wait until eleven the next 
morning to have my passport vise, so I could not start for 
Freiberg before seven p.m. I took advantage of that day to 
visit the capital of Saxony, and I can assure you that I saw 
some admirable things. There is a most beautiful museum 
containing pictures by the first masters of every school. 1 
spent over four hours in the galleries, noting on my catalogue 
the pictures I most enjoyed. Those I liked I marked with a 
cross; but I soon put two, three crosses, according to the 
degree of my enthusiasm. I even went as far as four. 

''I also visited what they call the green vault room, an 
absolutely unique collection of works of art, gems, jewels . . . 
then some churches, avenues, admirable bridges across the 
Elbe. ... 

''I then started for Freiberg at 7. . . . My love of crystals 
took me first to the learned Professor of mineralogy, Breithaupt, 
who received me as one would not be received in France. 
After a short colloquy, he passed into the next room, came back 
in a black tail-coat with three little decorations in his button 
hole, and told me he would first present me to the Baron von 
Beust, Superintendent of Factories, so as to obtain a permit 
to visit the latter. . . . Then he took me for a walk, talking 
crystals the whole time. ..." 

P.S, — "Mind you tell M. Biot how I was received; it will 
please him." 


Vienna, September 21 j 1852. *' Yesterday, Monday morn- 
ing, I set out to call upon several people. Unfortunately, I 
hear that Professor Schrotten is at Weisbaden, at a scientific 
congress, as well as M. Seybel, a manufacturer of tartaric acid. 
M. Miller, a merchant for whom I had a letter of recommenda- 
tion, was kind enough to ask M. Seybel 's business manager 
for permission for me to visit the factory in his absence. He 
refused, saying he was not authorized. But I did not give in; 
I asked for the addresses of Viennese professors, and I for- 
tunately came upon that of a very well known scientific man, 
M. Redtenbacher, who has been kind to me beyond all 
description. At 6 a.m. he came to my hotel, and we took the 
train at 7 for the Sej'-bel manufactory, which is at a little dis- 
tance from Vienna. We were received by the chemist of the 
factory, who made not the slightest difficulty in introducing 
us into the sanctuary, and after many questions we ended by 
being convinced that the famous racemic acid was seen there 
last winter. ... I reserve for later many details of great 
interest, for here they have operated for years on crude tartar. 
I came away very happy. 

*' There is another factory of tartaric acid in Vienna. We 
go there; I repeat through M. Redtenbacher my string of 
questions. They have seen nothing. I ask to see their 
products, and I come upon a barrel full of tartaric acid crystals, 
on the surface of which I think I perceive the substance. A 
first test made with dirty old glasses then and there confirms 
my doubts; they become a certainty a few moments later at 
M. Redtenbacher 's laboratory. We dine together; then we 
go back to the factory, where we learn, miraculous to relate, 
that they are just now embarrassed in their manufacturing 
process, and, almost certainly, the product which hinders them 
— though it is in a very small quantity, and they take it for 
sulphate of potash — is no other than racemic acid. I wish I 
could give you more details of this eventful day. I was to 
have left Vienna to-day, but, as you will understand, I shall 
stay until I have unravelled this question. I have already in 
the laboratory three kinds of products from the factory. To- 
morrow night, or the day after, I shall know what to think. . . . 

''You remember what I used to say to you and to M. Dumas, 
that almost certainly the first operation which tartar goes 
through in certain factories causes it to lose all or nearly all its 
racemic acid. Well, in the two Viennese factories, it is only 

1850—1854 67 

two years since they began to operate on crude tartar, and it ia 
only two years since they first saw the supposed sulphate of 
potash, the supposed sulphate of magnesia. For, at M. 
Seybel's, they had taken for sulphate of magnesia the little 
crystals of racemic acid. 

"Shortly, this is as far as I have come — I spare you many 
details : — 

1. ''The Naples tartar contains racemic acid. 

2. ''The Austrian tartar (neighbourhood of Vienna) contains 
racemic acid. 

3. "The tartars of Hungary, Crotia, Carniola contain 
racemic acid. 

4. "The tartar of Naples contains notably more than the 
latter, for it presents racemic acid even after one refining 
process, whilst that from Austria and Hungary only presents 
it when in the crude state. 

"I believe it now to be extremely probable that I shall find 
some racemic acid in French tartars, but in very small quanti- 
ties ; and if it is not detected it is because all the circumstances 
of the manufacture of tartaric acid are unknown or un- 
appreciated, or because some little precaution is neglected that 
would preserve it or make it visible. 

"You see, dear Marie, how useful was my journey." 

*^ Vienna, September 30, 1852. I am not going to Trieste*, 
I shall start for Prague this evening." 

^^ Prague, October 1, 1852. Here is a startling piece of 
news. I arrive in Ptague; I settle down in the Hotel 
d'Angleterre, have lunch, and call on M. Rochleder, Professor 
of chemistry, so that he may introduce me to the manufacturer. 
I go to the chemist of the factory. Dr. Rassmann, for whom I 
had a letter from M. Redtenbacher, his former master. That 
letter contained all the questions that I usually make to the 
manufacturers of tartaric acid. 

"Dr. Rassman hardly took time to read the letter; he saw 
what it dealt with, and said to me: 'I have long obtained 
racemic acid. The Paris Pharmaceutical Society offered a 
prize for whoever manufactured it. It is a product of manu- 
facture ; I obtain it with the assistance of tartaric acid. ' I 
took the chemist's hand affectionately, and made him repeat 
what he had said. Then I added: 'You have made one of the 
greatest discoveries that it is possible to make in chemistry. 
Perhaps you do njot realise as I do the full importance of it. 


But allow me to teU you that, with my ideas, I look upon that 
discovery as impossible. I do not ask for your secret ; I shaU 
await the pubUcation of it with the greatest impatience. So 
that is really true? You take a kilogramme of pure tartaric 
acid, and with that you make racemic acidT 

'' 'Yes,' he said; 'but it is still' ... and as he had some 
difficulty in expressing himself, I said: 'It is still surrounded 
with great difficulties?' 

'' 'Yes, monsieur.' 

''Great heavens! what a discovery! if he had really done 
what he says! But no; it is impossible. There is an abyss 
to cross, and chemistry is yet too young. 

Second letter, same date. "M. Rassmann is mistaken. . . . 
He has never obtained racemic acid with pure tartaric acid. 
He does what M. Fikentscher and the Viennese manufacturers 
do, with slight differences, which confirm the general opinion 
I expressed in my letter to M. Dumas a few days ago." 

That letter, and also another addressed to Biot, indicated 
that racemic acid was formed in varying quantities in the 
mother-Hquor, which remained after the purification of crude 


''I can at last," Pasteur wrote from Leipzig to his wife, 
''turn my steps again towards France. I want it; I am very 


In an account of this journey in a newspaper called 
La Verite there was this sentence, which amused everybody, 
Pasteur included: "Never was treasure sought, never adored 
beauty pursued over hill and vale with greater ardour." 

But the hero of scientific adventures was not satisfied. He 
had foreseen by the examination of crystalUne forms, the 
correlation between hemihedral dissymmetry and rotatory 
power; this was, to his mind, a happy foresight. He had 
afterwards succeeded in separating the racemic acid, inactive 
on polarized light, into two acids, left and right, endowed with 
equal but contrary rotatory powers; this was a discovery 
deservedly qualified as memorable by good judges in those 
matters. Now he had indicated the mother-liquor as a source 
of racemic acid, and this was a precious observation that 
Kestner, who was specially interested in the question, confirmed 
in a letter to the Academic des Sciences (December, 1852), 
sending at the same time three large phials of racemic acid, 
«ne of which, made of thin glass, bxroke in Biot's hands. But 

1850—1854! 69 

a great advance, apparently unrealizable, remained yet to be 
accomplished. Could not racemic acid be produced by the aid 
of tartaric acid? 

Pasteur himself, as he told the optimist Rassmann, did not 
believe such a transformation possible. But, by dint of in- 
genious patience, of trials, of efforts of all sorts, he fancied he 
was nearing the goal. He wrote to his father: ''I am think- 
ing of one thing only, of the hope of a brilliant discovery which 
seems not very far. But the result I foresee is so extraordinary 
that I dare not believe it." He told Biot and Senarmont of 
this hope. Both seemed to doubt. "I advise you," wrote 
Senarmont, ''not to speak until you can say: *I obtain 
racemic acid artificially with some tartaric acid, of which I 
have myself verified the purity; the artificial acid, like the 
natural, divides itself into equal equivalents of left and right 
tartaric acids, and those acids have the forms, the optical prop- 
erties, all the chemical properties of those obtained from the 
natural acid.' Do not believe that I want to worry you; the 
scruples I have for you I should have for myself; it is well to 
be doubly sure when dealing with such a fact." But with 
Biot, Senarmont was less reserved; he believed the thing done. 
He said so to Biot, who, prudent and cautious, still desirous of 
warning Pasteur, wrote to him on May 27, 1853, speaking of 
Senarmont: "The affection with which your work, your per- 
severance and your moral character have inspired him makes 
him desire impossible prodigies for you. My friendship for 
you is less hastily hopeful and harder to convince. However, 
enjoy his friendship fully, and be as unreserved with him as 
you are with me. You can do so in full security; I do not 
know a stronger character than his. I have said and repeated 
to him how happy I am to see the affection he bears you. 
For there will be at least one man who will love you and under- 
stand you when I am gone. Farewell; enough sermons for 
to-day; a man must be as I am, in his eightieth year, to write 
such long homilies. Fortunately you are accustomed to mine, 
and do not mind them." 

At last, on the first of June, here is the letter announcing 
the great fact: ''My dear father, I have just sent out the 
following telegram: Monsieur Biot, College de France, Paris. 
J transform tartaric acid into racemic acid; please inform MM. 
Dumas and Senarmont. Here is at last that racemic acid 
(which I w^nt to seek at Vienna) artificially obtained throug}| 

i I 


tartaric acid. I long believed that that transformation was 
impossible. This discovery will have incalculable conse- 
quences. ' ' 

I congratulate you," answered Biot on the second of June. 
Your discovery is now complete. M. de Senarmont will be as 
delighted as I am. Please congratulate also Mme. Pasteur from 
me; she must be as pleased as you." It was by maintaining 
tartrate of cinchonin at a high temperature for several hours 
that Pasteur had succeeded in transforming tartaric acid into 
racemic acid. Without entering here into technical details 
(which are to be found in a report of the Paris Pharmaceutical 
Society, concerning the prize accorded to Pasteur for the 
artificial production of racemic acid) it may be added that he 
had also produced the neutral tartaric acid — that is: with no 
action on polarized light — which appeared at the expense of 
racemic acid already formed. There were henceforth four 
different tartaric acids: — (1) the right or dextro-tartaric acid; 
(2) the left or laevo-tartaric acid; (3) the combination of the 
right and the left or racemic acid; and (4) the meso-tartaric 
acid, optically inactive. 

The reports of the Academic des Sciences also contain 
accounts of occasional discoveries, of researches of all kinds 
accessory to the history of racemic acid. Thus aspartic acid 
had caused Pasteur to make a sudden journey from Strasburg 
to Vendome. A chemist named Dessaignes — who was munici- 
pal receiver of that town, and who found time through sheer 
love of science for researches on the constitution of divers sub- 
stances — had announced a fact which Pasteur wished to verify; 
it turned out to be inaccurate. 

One whole sitting of the Academic, the third of January, 
1853, was given up to Pasteur's name and growing achieve- 

After all this Pasteur came back to Arbois with the red 
ribbon of the Legion of Honour. He had not won it in the same 
way as his father had, but he deserved it as fully. Joseph 
Pasteur, delighiing in his illustrious son, wrote effusively to 
Biot ; indeed the old scientist had had his share in this act of 
justice. Biot answered in the following letter, which is a 
further revelation of his high and independent ideal of a scien- 
tific career. 

** Monsieur, your good heart makes out my share to be 
^eater than it is. The splen ui discoveries made by yoisr 

1850—1854 71 

worthy and excellent son, his devotion to science, his indefatig- 
able perseverance, the conscientious care with which he fulfils 
the duties of his situation, all this had made his position such 
that there was no need to solicit for him what he had so long 
deserved. But one might boldly point out that it would be a 
real loss to the Order if he were not promptly included within 
its ranks. That is what I did, and I am very giad to see that 
the too long delay is now at an end. I wished for this all the 
more as I knew of your affectionate desire that this act of justice 
should be done. Allow me to add, however, that in our pro- 
fession our real distinction depends on us alone, fortunately, 
and not on the favour or inditference of a minister. In the 
position that your son has acquired, his reputation will grow 
with his work, no other help being needed; and the esteem 
he already enjoys, and which will grow day by day, will be 
accorded to him, without gainsaying or appeal, by the Grand 
Jury of scientists of all nations — an absolutely just tribunal, 
the only one we recognize. 

''Allow me to add to my congratulations the expression of 
the esteem and cordial aifection with which you have in- 
spired me." 

On his return to Strasburg Pasteur went to live in a house 
in the Rue des Couples, which suited him as being near the 
Academie and his laboratory; it also had a garden where his 
children could play. He was full of projects, and what he 
called the "spirit of invention" daily suggested some new 
undertaking. The neighbourhood of Germany, at that time a 
veritable hive of busy bees, was a fertile stimulant to the 
French Faculty at Strasburg. 

But material means were lacking. When Pasteur received 
the prize of 1,500 francs given him by the Pharmaceutical So- 
ciety, he gave up half of it to buying instruments which the 
Strasburg laboratory was too poor to afford. The resources then 
placed by the State at his disposal by way of contribution to 
the expenses of a chemistry class only consisted of 1,200 franca 
under the heading "class expenses." Pasteur had to pay the 
wages of his laboratory attendant out of it. Now that he was 
better provided thanks to his prize, he renewed his studies on 

Taking up an octahedral crystal, he broke off a piece of it, 
then replaced it in its mother-liquor. Whilst the crystal was 
growing larger in every direction by a deposit of crj^stalline par« 


tides, a very active formation was taking place on the muti- 
lated part; after a few hours the crystal had again assumed its 
original shape. The healing up of wounds, said Pasteur, might 
be compared to that physical phenomenon. Claude Bernard, 
much struck later on by these experiments of Pasteur's and 
recalling them with much praise, said in his turn — 

' ' These reconstituting phenomena of crystalline redintegration 
afford a complete comparison with those presented by living 
beings in the case of a wound more or less deep. In the crystal 
as in the animal, the damaged part heals, gradually taking back 
its original shape, and in both cases the reformation of tissue 
is far more active in that particular part than under ordinary 
evolutive conditions. ' ' 

Thus those two great minds saw affinities hidden under facts 
apparently far apart. Other similarities yet more unexpected 
carried Pasteur away towards the highest region of speculation. 
He spoke with enthusiasm of molecular dissymmetry; he saw 
it everywhere in the universe. These studies in dissymmetry 
gave birth twenty years later to a new science arising immedi- 
ately out of his work, viz. stereo-chemistry, or the chemistry of 
space. He also saw in molecular dissymmetry the influence of 
a great cosmic cause — 

^'The universe," he said one day, ^*is a dissymmetrical 
whole. I am inclined to think that life, as manifested to us, 
must be a function of the dissymmetry of the universe and of 
the consequences it produces. The universe is dissymmetrical; 
for, if the whole of the bodies which compose the solar system 
were placed before a glass moving with their individual move- 
ments, the image in the glass could not be superposed to the 
reality. Even the movement of solar life is dissymmetrical. 
A luminous ray never strikes in a straight line the leaf where 
vegetable life creates organic matter. Terrestrial magnetism, 
the opposition which exists between the north and south poles 
in a magnet, that offered us by the two electricities positive 
and negative, are but resultants from dissymmetrical actions 
and movements." 

''Life," he said again, "is dominated by dissymmetrical 
actions. I can even foresee that all living species are primor- 
dially, in their structure, in their external forms, functions of 
cosmic dissymmetry." 

And there appeared to him to be a barrier between mineral 
or artificial products and products formed under the influence 

1850— 1854j 73 

of life. But he did not look upon it as an impassable oiie, and 
lie was careful to say, ''It is a distinction of fact and not of 
absolute principle." As nature elaborates immediate principles 
of life by means of dissymmetrical forces, he wished that the 
chemist should imitate nature, and that, breaking with methods 
founded upon the exclusive use of symmetrical forces, he should 
bring dissymmetrical forces to bear upon the production of chem- 
ical phenomena. He himself, after using powerful magnets to 
attempt to introduce a manifestation of dissymmetry into the 
form of crystals, had had a strong clockwork movement 
constructed, the object of which was to keep a plant m 
continual rotatory motion first in one direction then in another. 
He also proposed to try to keep a plant alive, from its germina- 
tion under the influence of solar rays reversed by means of a 
mirror directed by a heliostat. 

But Biot wrote to him: **I should like to be able to turn 
you from the attempts you wish to make on the influence of 
magnetism on vegetation. M. de Senarmont agrees with me. 
To begin with, you will spend a great deal on the purchase of 
instruments with the use of which you are not familiar, and of 
which the success is very doubtful. They will take you away 
from the fruitful course of experimental researches whicli you 
have followed hitherto, where there is yet so much for you to do, 
and will lead you from the certain to the uncertain." 

''Louis is rather too preoccupied with his experiments," 
wrote Mme. Pasteur to her father-in-law; "you know that 
those he is undertaking this year will give us, if they succeed, 
a Newton or a Galileo." 

But success did not come. "My studies are going rather 
badly," wrote Pasteur in his turn (December 30). "I am 
almost afraid of failing in all my endeavours this year, and 
of having no important achievement to record by the end of 
next year. I am still hoping, though I suppose it was rather 
mad to undertake what I have undertaken." 

Whilst he was thus struggling, an experiment, which for 
others would have been a mere chemical curiosity, interested 
him passionately. Recalling one day how his first researches 
had led him to the study of ferments: "If I place," he said, 
"one of the salts of racemic acid, paratartrate or racemate of 
ammonia, for instance, in the ordinary conditions of fermenta' 
tion, the dextro-tartaric acid alone ferments, the other remains 
m the liquor. I may say, in passing, that this is the best means 


of preparing laevo-tartaric acid. Why does the dextro-tartaric 
acid alone become putrefied? Because the ferments of that 
fermentation feed more easily on the right than on the left 

' ' I ha\ e done yet more, ' ' he said much later, in a last lecture 
to the Chemical Society of Paris; **I have kept alive some litile 
seeds of penicitlium glaucum — that mucor which is to be found 
everywhere — on the surface of ashes and paratartaric acid 
and I have seen the laevo-tartaric acid appear , . /' 

What seemed to him startling in those two experiments waa 
to find molecular dissymmetry appear as a modifying agent 
on chemical affinities in a phenomenon of the physiological 

By an interesting coincidence it was at the very momenv 
when his studies were bringing him towards fermentations 
that he was called to a country where the local industry was 
to be the strongest stimulant to his new researches. 


In September, 1854, he was made Professor and Dean of 
the new Facuice des Sciences at Lille. ''I need not. Sir,*' 
Wrote the Minister of Public Instruction, M. Fortoul, in a 
letter where private feelings were mixed with official solemnity, 
"recall to your mind the importance which is attached to the 
Ruccess of this new Faculty of Science, situated in a town which 
is the richest centre of industrial activity in the north of France. 
By giving you the direction of it, I show the entire confidence 
which I have placed in you. I am convinced that you will 
fulfil the hopes which I have founded upon your zeal." 

Built at the expense of the town, the Faculte was sit- 
uated in the Rue des Fleurs. In the opening speech 
which he pronounced on December 7, 1854, the young 
Dean expressed his enthusiasm for the Imperial decree 
of August 22, which brought two happy innovations into the 
Faculties of Science: (1) The pupils might, for a small annual 
sum, enter the laboratory and practise the principal experi- 
ments carried out before them at the classes; and (2) a new 
diploma was created. After two years of practical and theoret- 
ical study the young men who wished to enter an industrial 
career could obtain this special diploma and be chosen as fore- 
men or overseers. Pasteur was overjoyed at being able to do 
useful work in that country of distilleries, and to attract large 
audiences to the new Faculty. ''Where in your families will 
you find," he said, to excite indolent minds — "where will you 
find a young man w^hose curiosity and interest will not imme- 
diately be awakened when you put into his hands a potato, 
when with that potato he may produce sugar, with that sugar 
alcohol, with that alcohol aether and vinegar? Where is he 
that will not be happy to tell his family in the evening that he 
has just been working out an electric telegraph? And, gentle- 
men, be convinced of this, such studies are seldom if ever 
forgotten. It is somewhat as if geography were to be taught 



by travelling; such geography is remembered because one has 
seen the places. In the same way your sons will not forget 
what the air we breathe contains when they have once analysed 
it, when in their hands and under their eyes the admirable 
properties of its elements have been resolved.'' 

After stating his wish to be directly useful to these sons of 
manufacturers and to put his laboratory at their disposal, he 
eloquently upheld the rights of theory in teaching — ■ 

"Without theory, practice is but routine born of habit. 
Theory alone can bring forth and develop the spirit of inven- 
tion. It is to you specially that it will belong not to share the 
opinion of those narrow minds who disdain everything in 
science which has not an immediate application. You know 
Franklin's charming sajdng? He was witnessing the first 
demonstration of a purely scientific discovery, and people 
round him said: 'But what is the use of it?' Franklin 
answered them; 'What is the use of a new-bom child?* 
Yes, gentlemen, what is the use of a new-born child? And 
yet, perhaps, at that tender age, germs already existed in you 
of the talents which distinguish youl In your baby boys, 
fragile beings as they are, there are incipient magistrates, 
scientists, heroes as valiant as those who are now covering 
themselves with glory under the waUs of Sebastopol. And 
thus, gentlemen, a theoretical discovery has but the merit of 
its existence: it awakens hope, and that is all. But let it be 
cultivated, let it grow, and you wiU see what it will become. 

''Do you know when it first saw the light, this electric 
telegraph, one of the most marvellous applications of modern 
science? It was in that memorable year, 1822: Oersted, a 
Danish physicist, held in his hands a piece of copper wire, 
joined by its extremities to the two poles of a Volta pile. On 
his table was a magnetized needle on its pivot, and he suddenly 
saw (by chance you will say, but chance only favours the mind 
which is prepared) the needle mcve and take up a position 
quite different from the one assigned to it by terrestrial mag- 
netism. A wire carrying an electric current deviates a mag- 
netized needle from its position. That, gentlemen, was the 
birth of the modern telegraph. Franklin's interlocutor might 
well h^ve said when the needle moved: 'But what is the use 
of that?^ And yet that discovery was barely twenty years old 
when it produced by its application the almost supernatural 
effects of the electric telegraph!" 

1855—1859 77 

The small theatre where Pasteur gave his chemistry lessons 
soon became celebrated in the students^ world. 

The faults had disappeared with which Pasteur used to 
reproach himself when he first taught at Dijon and later at 
Strasburg. He was sure of himself, he was clear in his ex- 
planations; the chain of thought, the fitness of words, all was 
perfect. He made few experiments, but those were decisive. 
He endeavoured to bring out every observation or comparison 
they might suggest. The pupil w^ho went away delighted 
from the class did not suspect the care each of those apparently 
easy lessons had cost. When Pasteur had carefully prepared 
aU his notes, he used to make a summary of them; he had 
these summaries bound together afterwards. We may thus 
sketch the outline of his work; but who will paint the gesture 
of demonstration, the movement, the grave penetrating voice, 
the life in short? 

After a few months the Minister wrote to M. Guillemin, the 
rector, that he was much pleased with the success of this 
Faculty of Sciences at Lille, ** which already owes it to the 
merit of the teaching — solid and brilliant at the same time — 
of that clever Professor, that it is able to rival the most 
flourishing Faculties.'* The Minister felt he must add some 
ofiScial advice: **But M. Pasteur must guard against being 
carried away by his love for science, and he must not forget 
that the teaching of the Faculties, whilst keeping up with 
scientific theory, should, in order to produce useful and far- 
reaching results, appropriate to itself the special applications 
suitable to the real wants of the surrounding country." 

A year after the inauguration of the new Faculty, Pasteur 
wrote to Chappuis: **Our classes are very well attended; I 
have 250 to 300 people at my most popular lectures, and we 
have twenty-one pupils entered for laboratory experiments. 
I believe that this year, like last year, Lille holds the first 
rank for that innovation, for I am told that at Lyons there 
were but eight entries.'* It was indeed a success to distance 
Lyons. **The zeal of all is a pleasure to watch (January, 
1856). It reaches that point that four of the professors take 
the trouble to have their manuscript lessons printed; there 
are already 120 subscribers for the course of applied mechanics. 

**Our building is fortunately completed; it is large and 
handsome, but will soon become insufficient owin^ to the 
progress of practical teaching. 


*'We are very comfortably settled on the first floor, and 1 
have (on the ground floor immediately below) what I have 
always wished for, a laboratory where I can go at any time* 
This week, for instance, the gas remains on, and operations 
follow their course whilst I am in bed. In this way I try to 
make up a little of the time which I have to give to the direc- 
tion of all the rather numerous departments m our Faculties. 
Add to this that I am a member of two very active societies, 
and that I have been entrusted, at the suggestion of the 
Conseil-General,^ with the testing of manures for the departes- 
ment of the Nord, a considerable work in this rich agricultural 
land, but one which I have accepted eagerly, so as to popularize 
and enlarge the influence of our young Faculty. 

*'Do not fear lest all this should keep me from the studies 
I love. I shaU not give them up, and I trust that what is 
already accomplished will grow without my help, with the 
growth that time gives to everything that has within it the 
germ of life. Let us all work; that only is enjoyable. I 
am quoting M. Biot, who certainly is an authority on that 
Bubject. You saw the share he took the other day in a great 
discussion at the Academic des Sciences; his presence of mind, 
high reasoning powers, and youthfulness were magnificent, 
an^ he is eighty-four!" 

In a mere study on Pasteur as a scientific man, the way 
in which he understood his duties as Dean would only be a 
secondary detail. It is not so here, the very object of this 
book being to paint what he was in all the circumstances, 
aU the trials of life. Besides his professional obligations, 
his kindness in leaving his laboratory, however hard the sacri- 
fice, bears witness to an ever present devotion. For instance, 
he took his pupils round factories and foundries at Aniche, 
Denain, Valenciennes, St. Omer. In July, 1856, he organized 
for the same pupils a tour in Belgium. He took them to visit 
factories, iron foundries, steel and metal works, questioning 
the foremen with his insatiable curiosity, pleased to induce in 
his tail students a desire to learn. All returned from these 
trips with more pleasure in their work; some with the fiery 
enthusiasm that Pasteur wished to see. 

1 Conseil-Gen^ral de depart ement. A representative assembly for thi 
general management of each departement, somewhat similar to the 
County Councils in England. [Trans.] 

1855—1859 79 

The sentence in his Lille speech, '*in the fields of observa- 
tion, chance only favours the mind which is prepared/' was 
particularly applicable to him. In the summer of 1856 a 
Lille manufacturer, M. Bigo, had, like many others that same 
year, met with great disappointments in the manufacture of 
beetroot alcohol. He came to the young Dean for advice. 
The prospect of doing a kindness, of communicating the results 
of his observations to the numerous hearers who crowded the 
small theatre of the Faculty, and of closely studying the pheno- 
mena of fermentation which preoccupied him to such a degree, 
caused Pasteur to consent to make some experiments. He 
epent some time almost daily at the factory. On his return 
to his laboratory — where he only had a student's microscope 
and a most primitive coke-fed stove — he examined the globules 
in the fermentation juice, he compared filtered with non- 
filtered beetroot juice, and conceived stimulating hypotheses 
often to be abandoned in face of a fact in contradiction with 
them. Above some note made a few days previously, where 
a suggested hypothesis had not been verified by fact, he would 
write: ''error," ''erroneous,'* for he was implacable in his 
criticism of himself. 

M. Bigo's son, who studied in Pasteur's laboratory, has 
summed up in a letter how these accidents of manufacture 
became a starting point to Pasteur's investigations on fer- 
mentation, particularly alcoholic fermentation. "Pasteur 
had noticed through the microscope that the globules were 
round when fermentation was healthy, that they lengthened 
when alteration began, and were quite long when fermen- 
tation became lactic. This very simple method allowed ua 
to watch the process and to avoid the failures in fermentation 
which we used so often to meet with. ... I had the good 
fortune to be many times the confidant of the enthusiasms 
and disappointments of a great man of science." Young 
Bigo indeed remembered the series of experiments, the 
numerous observations noted, and how Pasteur, whilst study- 
ing the causes of those failures in the distillery, had wondered 
whether he was not confronted with a general fact, common 
to all fermentations. Pasteur was on the road to a discovery 
the consequences of which were to revolutionize chemistry. 
During months and months he worked to assure himself that 
he was not a prey to error. 

In order to appreciate the importance of the ideas which 


from that small laboratory were about to inundate the world, 
and in order to take account of the effort necessitated to obtain 
the triumph of a theory which was to become a doctrine, it is 
necessary to go back to the teachings of that time upon the 
subject of fermentations. All was darkness, pierced in 1836 
by a momentary ray of light. The physicist Cagniard-Latour, 
studying the ferment of beer called yeast, had observed that 
that ferment was composed of cells *' susceptible of reproduc* 
tion by a sort of budding, and probably acting on sugar 
through some effect of their vegetation." Almost at the same 
time the German doctor Schwann was making analogous 
observations. However, as the fact seemed isolated, nothing 
similar being met with elsewhere, Cagniard-Latour 's remark 
was but a curious parenthesis in the history of fermentations. 

When such men as J. B. Dumas said that perhaps there 
might be a sequel to Cagniard-Latour 's statement, they 
emitted the idea so timidly that, in a book On Contagion 
published at Montpellier in 1853, Anglada, the well known 
author, expressed himself thus — • 

**M. Dumas, who is an authority, looks upon the act of 
fermentation as strange and obscure; he declares that it gives 
rise to phenomena the knowledge of which is only tentative at 
present. Such a competent affirmation is of a nature to dis- 
courage those who claim to unravel the mysteries of contagion 
by the comparative study of fermentation. What is the 
advantage of explaining one through the other since both are 
equally mysterious!" This word, obscure, was to be found 
ever3rv\^here. Claude Bernard used the same epithet at the 
College de France in March, 1850, to qualify those phenomena. 

Four months before the request of the Lille manufacturer, 
Pasteur himself, preparing on a loose sheet of paper a lesson 
on fermentation, had written these words: **What does fer- 
mentation consist of? — ^Mysterious character of the phe- 
nomenon. — ^A word on lactic acid." Did he speak in that 
lesson of his ideas of future experiments? Did he insist upon 
the mystery he intended to unveil? With his powers of con- 
centration it is probable that he restrained himself and decided 
to wait another year. 

The theories of Berzelius and of Liebig then reigned 
supreme. To the mind of Berzelius, the Swedish chemist, 
fermentation was due to contact. It was said that there 
was a catalytic force. In his opinion, what Cagniard-Latoui? 

1855—1859 81 

believed he had seen, was but ''an immediate vegetable 
principle, which became precipitated during the fermentation 
of beer, and which, in precipitaung, presented forms analogous 
to the simpler forms of vegetable life, but formation does not 
constitute life." 

In the view of the German chemist Liebig, chemical 
decomposition was produced by influence : the ferment was 
an extremely alterable organic substance which decomposed, 
and in decomposing set in motion, by the rupture of its own 
elements, the molecules of the fermentative matter; it was the 
dead portion of the yeast, that which had lived and was being 
altered, which acted upon the sugar. These theories were 
adopted, taught, and to be found in all treatises on chemistry, 

A vacancy at the Academic des Sciences took Pasteur away 
from his students for a time and obliged him to go to Paris. 
Biot, Dumas, Balard and Senarmont had insisted upon his 
presenting himself in the section of mineralogy. He felt 
himself unfit for the candidature. He was as incapable of 
•election manoeuvres as he was full of his subject when he had to 
convince an interlocutor or to interest an audience in his works 
on crystallography. (These works had just procured the 
bestowal on him of the great Rumford medal, conferred by the 
London Royal Society.) During this detested canvassing 
campaign he had one happy day: he was present on February 
5, 1857, at the reception of Biot by the Academic FrauQaise. 

Biot, who had entered the Academic des Sciences fifty-four 
years earlier, and was now the oldest member of the Institute, 
took advantage of his great age to distribute, in the course of 
his speech, a good deal of wise counsel, much applauded by 
Pasteur from the ranks of the audience. Biot, with his calm 
irony, aimed this epigram at men of science who disdained 
letters: ** Their science was not the more apparent through 
their want of Literary culture." He ended by remarks which 
formed a continuation of his last letter to Pasteur's father. 
Making an appeal to those whose high ambition is to conse- 
crate themselves to pure science, he proudly said: ** Perhaps 
your name, your existence will be unknown to the crowd. But 
you will be known, esteemed, sought after by a small number 
of eminent men scattered over the face of the earth, your rivals, 
your peers in the intellectual Senate of minds; they alone have 
the right to appreciate yoU and to a^^'sign to you your rank. 


a well-merited rank, which, no princely will, no popular caprice 
can give or take away, and which will remain yours as long 
as you remain faithful to Science, which bestows it upon you." 

Guizot, to whom it fell to welcome Blot to the Academie, 
rendered homage to his independence, to his worship of dis- 
interested research, to his ready counsels. *'The events which 
have overturned everything around you," he said, *'have never 
turned the course of your free and firm judgment, or of your 
peaceful labours." On that occasion the decline of Biot's life 
seemed like a beautiful summer evening in the north, before 
nightfall, when a soft light still envelops all things. No 
disciple ever felt more emotion than Pasteur when participating 
in that last joy of his aged master. In Regnault's laboratory, a 
photograph had been taken of Biot seated with bent head and 
a weary attitude, but with the old sparkle in his eyes. Biot 
offered it to Pasteur, saying: **If you place this proof near a 
portrait of your father, you will unite the pictures of two men 
who have loved you very much in the same way." 

Pasteur, between two canvassing visits, gave himself the 
pleasure of going to hear a young professor that every one was 
then speaking of. *'I have just been to a lecture by Rigault, 
at the College de France," he wrote on March 6, 1857. *'The 
room is too small, it is a struggle to get in. I have come away 
delighted; it is a splendid success for the Universite, there is 
nothing to add, nothing to retrench. Fancy a professor in one 
of the Paris lycees making such a debut at the College de 

Pasteur preferred Rigault to St. Marc Girardin. ''And 
Rigault is only beginning!" But, under Rigault ^s elegance 
and apparent ease, lurked perpetual constraint. One day that 
St. Marc Girardin was congratulating him, *'Ah," said 
Rigault, **you do not see the steel corsets that I wear when I 
am speaking ! ' ' That comparison suited his delicate, ingenious, 
slightly artificial mind, never unrestrained even in simple 
conversation, at the same time conscientious and self-conscious. 
He who had once written that **Life is a work of art to be 
fashioned by a skilful hand if the faculties of the mind are to 
be fully enjoyed," made the mistake of forcing his nature. He 
died a few months after that lecture. 

Pasteur's enthusiastic lines about Rigault show the joy he felt 
at the success of others. He did not understand envy, ill-will, 
or jealousy, and was more than astonished, indeed amazed. 


1855—1859 83 

when he came across such feelings. One day that he had read an 
important paper at the Academic des Sciences, ''Would you 
believe it," he wrote to his father, ''I met a Paris Professor of 
chemistry the very next day, whom I know to have been present, 
who had indeed come purposely to hear my reading, and he 
never said a word! I then remembered a saying of M. Biot's: 
*AVhen a colleague reads a paper and no one speaks to him 
about it afterwards, it is because it has been thought well 
of ' " 

The election was at hand. Pasteur wrote (March 11) : 
**My dear father, I am certain to fail." He thought he might 
count upon twenty votes; thirty were necessary. He resigned 
himself philosophically. His candidature would at any rate 
bring his works into greater prominence. In spite of a splendid 
report by Senarmont, enumerating the successive steps by 
which Pasteur had risen since his first discoveries concerning 
the connection between internal structure and external 
crystalline forms, Pasteur only obtained sixteen votes. 

On his return to Lille he set to work with renewed energy; 
hfc> took up again his study of fermentations, and in particular 
that of sour milk, called lactic fermentation; he made notes of 
his experiments day by day; he drew in a notebook the little 
globules, the tiny bodies that he found in a grey substance 
sometimes arranged in a zone. Those globules, much smaller 
than those of yeast, had escaped the observation of chemists 
and naturalists because it was easy to confound them with other 
products of lactic fermentation. After isolating and then 
scattering in a liquid a trace of that grey substance, Pasteur saw 
some well-characterized lactic fermentation appear. That 
matter, that grey .substance was indeed the ferment. 

Whilst all the writings of the chemists who followed in the 
train of Liebig and Berzelius united in rejecting the idea of an 
influence of life in the cause of fermentations, Pasteur recog- 
nized therein a phenomenon correlative to life. That special 
lactic yeast, Pasteur could see budding, multiplying, and offer- 
ing the same phenomena of reproduction as beer yeast. 

It was not to the Academic des Sciences, as is generally 
believed, that Pasteur sent the paper on lactic fermentation, the 
fifteen pages of which contained such curious and unexpected 
facts. With much delicacy of feeling, Pasteur made to the 
Lille Scientific Society this communication (August, 1857) 
which the Academic des Sciences only saw three months later. 


How was it that he desired to leave this Faculty at Lille to 
which he had rendered such valuable service? The Ecole 
Normale was going through difficult times. *'In my opinion," 
wrote Pasteur with a sadness that betrayed his attachment 
to the great school, "of all the objects of care to the authorities, 
the Ecole Normale should be the first ; it is now but the shadow 
of its former self." He who so often said, ''Do not dwell upon 
things already acquired!" thought that the Lille Faculty was 
henceforth sure of its future and needed him no longer. Was it 
not better to come to the assistance of the threatened weak 
point? At the IVIinistry of Public Instruction his wish wa5^ 
understood and approved of. Nisard had just been made Di- 
rector of the Ecole Normale with high and supreme powers ; his 
sub-director of literary studies was M. Jacquinet. The adminis- 
tration was reserved for Pasteur, who was also entrusted with 
the direction of the scientific studies. To that task were added 
^*the surveillance of the economic and hygienic management, 
the care of general discipline, intercourse with the families of 
Khe pupils and the literary or scientific establishments fre- 
quented by them." 

The rector of the Lille Faculty announced in these terms 
the departure of the Dean : ' ' Our Faculty loses a professor and 
a scientist of the very first order. You have yourselves, gentle- 
men, been able to appreciate more than once all the vigour and 
clearness of that mind at once so powerful and so capable." 

At the Ecole Normale, Pasteur's labours were not at first 
seconded by material convenience. The only laboratory in 
the Rue d'Ulm building was occupied by Henri Sainte Claire 
Deville who, in 1851, had taken the place of Balard, the latter 
lea\^ng the Ecole Normale for the College de France. Dark 
rooms, a very few instruments, and a credit of 1,800 francs a 
year, that was all Sainte Claire Deville had been able to obtain. 
It would have seemed like a dream to Pasteur. He had to 
organize his scientific installation in two attics under the roof of 
the Ecole Normale ; he had no assistance of any kind, not even 
that of an ordinary laboratory attendant. But his courage was 
not of the kind which evaporates at the first obstacle, and no 
difficulty could have kept him from work : he climbed the stairs 
heading to his pseudo-laboratory with all the cheerfulness of a 
soldier's son. Biot — ^who had been grieved to see the chemist 
Laurent working in a sort of cellar, where that scientist's health 
suffered Che died at forty-three) — ^was angry that Pasteur should 

1855—1859 85 

be relegated to an uninhabitable garret. Neither did he under- 
stand the '* economic and hygienic surveillance" attributed to 
Pasteur. He hoped Pasteur would reduce to their just propor 
tions those secondary duties. *'They have made him an ad- 
ministrator, ' ' he said with mock pomposity; ''let them 
believe that he will administrate." Biot was mistaken. The 
de minimis non curat did not exist for Pasteur. 

On one of his agenda leaves, besides subjects for lectures, we 
find notes such as these: "Catering; ascertain what weight of 
meat per pupil is given out at the Ecole Polytechnique. Court- 
yard to be strewn with sand. Ventilation of classroom. Dining 
hall door to be repaired. ' * Each detail was of importance in his 
eyes, when the health of the students was in question. 

He inaugurated his garret by some work almost as celebrated 
as that on lactic fermentation. In December, 1857, he pre- 
sented to the Academic des Sciences a paper on alcoholic 
fermentation. "I have submitted," he said, *^ alcoholic fer* 
mentation to the method of experimentation indicated in the 
notes which I recently had the honour of presenting to the 
Academic. The results of those labours should be put on the 
same lines, for they explain and complete each other." And 
in conclusion: "The deduplication of sugar into alcohol and 
carbonic acid is correlative to a phenomenon of life, an organiza- 
tion of globules ..." 

The reports of the Academic des Sciences for 1858 show how 
Pasteur recognized complex phenomena in alcoholic fermenta- 
tion. Whilst chemists were content to say: "So much sugar 
gives so much alcohol and so much carbonic acid," Pasteur 
went further. He wrote to Chappuis in June: "I find that 
alcoholic fermentation is constantly accompanied by the produc- 
tion of glycerine ; it is a very curious fact. For instance, in one 
litre of wine there are several grammes of that product which 
had not been suspected." Shortly before that he had also recog- 
nized the normal presence in alcoholic fermentation of succinic 
acid. "I should be pursuing the consequence of these facts," 
he added, "if a temperature of 36° C. did not keep me from my 
laboratory. I regret to see the longest days in the year lost to 
me. Yet I have grown accustomed to my attic, and I should be 
sorry to leave it. Next holidays I hope to enlarge it. You too 
are struggling against material hindrances in your work ; let it 
stimulate us, my dear fellow, and not discourage us. Our dis- 
coveries will have the greater merit." 


The year 1859 was given up to examining further facts 
concerning fermentation. Whence came those ferments, 
those microscopic bodies, those transforming agents, so weak in 
appearance, so powerful in reality? Great problems were 
working in his mind; but he was careful not to propound them 
hastily, for he was the most timid, the most hesitating of men 
until he held proofs in his hands. "In experimental science, '* 
he wrote, "it is always a mistake not to doubt when facts do not 
compel you to affirm." 

In September he lost his eldest daughter. She died of 
typhoid fever at Arbois, where she was staying with her grand- 
father. On December 30 Pasteur wrote to his father; **I 
cannot keep my thoughts from my poor little girl, so good, so 
happy in her little life, whom this fatal year now ending has 
taken away from us. She was growing to be such a com- 
panion to her mother and to me, to us all. . . . But forgive 
me, dearest father, for recalling these sad memories. She is 
happy; let us think of those who remain and try as much as 
lies ^n our power to keep from them the biUerness of this life. 




On January 30, 1860 the Academie des Sciences conferred 
on Pasteur the Prize for Experimental Physiology. Claude 
Bernard, who drew up the report, recalled how much Pasteur's 
experiments in alcoholic fermentation, lactic fermentation, the 
fermentation of tartaric acid, had been appreciated by the 
Academie. He dwelt upon the great physiological interest of 
the results obtained. "It is," he concluded, *'by reason of 
that physiological tendency in Pasteur's researches, that the 
Commission has unanimously selected him for the 1859 Prize 
for Experimental Physiology." 

That same January, Pasteur wrote to Chappuis: **I am 
pursuing as best I can these studies on fermentation which are 
of great interest, connected as they are with the impenetrable 
mystery of Life and Death. I am hoping to mark a decisive 
step very soon by solving, without the least confusion, the 
celebrated question of spontaneous generation. Already I could 
speak, but I want to push my experiments yet further. There 
is so much obscurity, together with so much passion, on both 
sides, that I shall require the accuracy of an arithmetical 
problem to convince my opponents by my conclusions. I intend 
to attain even that." 

This progress was depicted to his father in the following 
letter, dated February 7, 1860— 

' ' I think I told you that I should read a second and last lec- 
ture on my old researches on Friday, at the Chemical Society, 
before several members of the Institute — amongst others, 
Messrs. Dumas and Claude Bernard. That lecture has had the 
same success as the first. M. Biot heard about it the next day 
through some distinguished persons who were in the audience, 
and sent for me in order to kindly express his great satisfaction, 

''After I had finished, M. Dumas, who occupied the chaiie 



rose and addressed me in these words. After praising the zeaJ I 
had brought to this novel kind of teaching at the Society's 
request, and the so great penetration I had given proof of, in the 
course of the work I had just expounded, he added, *The 
Acxidemie, sir, rewarded you a few da/ys ago for other profound 
researches; your audience of this evening will applaud you as^ 
one of the most distinguished professors we possess.' 

''All I have underlined was said in those very words by M. 
Dumas, and was followed by great applause. 

"All the students of the scientific section of the Ecole Nor- 
male were present ; they felt deeply moved and several of them 
have expressed their emotion to me. 

"As for myself, I saw the realization of what I had foreseen. 
You know how I have always told you confidentially that time 
would see the growth of my researches on the molecular dissym- 
metry of natural organic products. Founded as they were on 
varied notions borrowed from divers branches of science — 
crystallography, physics, and chemistry — those studies could 
not be followed by most scientists so as to be fully under- 
stood. On this occasion I presented them in the aggregate 
with some clearness and power and every one was struck by 
their importance. 

"It is not by their form that these two lectures have de- 
lighted my hearers, it is by their contents; it is the future 
reserved to those great results, so unexpected, and opening such 
entirely new vistas to physiology. I have dared to say so, for at 
these heights all sense of personality disappears, and there only 
remains that sense of dignity which is ever inspired by true 
love of science. 

"God grant that by my persevering labours I may bring a 
little stone to the frail and ill-assured edifice of our knowledge 
of those deep mysteries of X/ife and Death where all our 
intellects have so lamentably failed. 

"P.S. — Yesterday I presented to the Academy my re- 
searches on spontaneous generation; they seemed to produce 
a great sensation. More later. *"* 

"When Biot heard that Pasteur wished to tackle this study 
of spontaneous generation, he interposed, as he had done 
seven years before, to arrest him on the verge of his audacious 
experiments on the part played by dissymmetrical forces in 
the development of life. Vainly Pasteur, grieved at Biot's 
disapprobation, explained that this question, in the course of 

1860—1864 89 

such researches, had become an imperious necessity; Biot 
would not be convinced. But Pasteur, in spite of his quasi- 
filial attachment to Biot, could not stop where he was; he 
had to go through to the end, 

''You will never find your way out," cried Biot. 

*'I shall try," said Pasteur modestly. 

Angry and anxious, Biot wished Pasteur to promise that 
lie would relinquish these apparently hopeless researches. 
J, B. Dumas, to whom Pasteur related the more than dis- 
couraging remonstrances of Biot, entrenched himself behind 
this cautious phrase — 

*'I would advise no one to dwell too long on such a subject.*' 

Senarmont alone, full of confidence in the ingenious curiositv 
of the man who could read nature by dint of patience, said 
that Pasteur should be allowed his own way. 

It is regrettable that Biot — whose passion for reading was 
so indefatigable that he complained of not finding enough 
books in the library at the Institute — should not have thought 
of writing the history of this question of spontaneous genera- 
tion. He could have gone back to Aristotle, quoted Lucretius, 
Virgil, Ovid, Pliny. Philosophers, poets, naturalists, all be- 
lieved in spontaneous generation. Time went on, and it was 
Btill believed in. In the sixteenth century, Yan Helmont — ■ 
who should not be judged by that one instance — gave a cele- 
brated recipe to create mice : any one could work that prodigy 
by putting some dirty linen in a receptacle, together with a 
few grains of wheat or a piece of cheese. Some time later an 
Italian, Buonanni, announced a fact no less fantastic : certain 
timberwood, he said, after rotting in the sea, produced worms 
which engendered butterflies, and those butterflies became 

Another Italian, less credulous, a poet and a physician, 
Francesco Redi, belonging to a learned society calling itself 
The Academy of Experience, resolved to carefully study one 
of those supposed phenomena of spontaneous generation. In 
order to demonstrate that the worms found in rotten meat 
did not appear spontaneously, he placed a piece of gauze over 
the meat. Flies, attracted by the odour, deposited their eggs 
on the gauze. From those eggs were hatched the worms, 
which had until then been supposed to begin life spontaneoucly 
in the flesh itself. This simple experiment marked some prog- 
ress. Later on another Italian, a medical professor of 


Padua, Yallisneri, recognized tliat the grub in a fruit is alse 
hatched from an egg deposited by an insect before the 
development of the fruit. 

The theory of spontaneous generation, still losing ground, 
appeared to be vanquished when the invention of the micro- 
scope at the end of the seventeenth century brought fresh 
arguments to its assistance. Whence came those thousands 
of creatures, only distinguishable on tht* slide of the micro- 
scope, those infinitely small beings which appeared in rain 
water as in any infusion of organic matter when exposed to 
the air? How could they be explained otherwise than through 
spontaneous generation, those bodies capable of producing 
1,000,000 descendants in less than forty-eight hours. 

The world of salons and of minor courts was pleased tc 
have an opinion on this question. The Cardinal of Folignac, 
a diplomat and a man of letters, wrote in his leisure moments 
a long Latin poem entitled the Anti-Lucretius. After scout- 
ing Lucretius and other philosophers of the same school, the 
cardinal traced back to one Supreme Foresight the mechan- 
ism and organization of the entire world. By ingenious 
developments and circumlocutions, worthy of the Abbe Delille, 
the cardinal, while vaunting the wonders of the microscope, 
which he caUed ''eye of our eye," saw in it only another 
prodigy offered us by Almighty ^Yisdom. Of all those accu- 
mulated and verified arguments, this simple notion stood out: 
**The earth, which contains numberless germs, has not pro- 
duced them. Everj-thing in this world has its germ or seed.** 

Diderot, who disseminated so many ideas (since borrowed 
by many people and used as if originated by them), wrote 
in some tumultuous pages on nature: ''Does living matter 
combine with living matter? how? and with what result? 
And what about dead matter?" 

About the middle of the eighteenth century the problem 
was again raised on scientific ground. Two priests, one an 
Englishman, Needham, and the other an Italian, Spallanzani, 
entered the lists. Needham, a great partisan of spontaneous 
generation, studied with BufEon some microscopic animalculae. 
Buffon afterwards built up a whole system which became 
fashionable at that time. The force which Needham found in 
matter, a force which he called productive or vegetative, and 
which he regarded as charged with the formation of the organic 
world, Bijffon explained by saying that there are certain priittU 

1860—1864. 91 

tive and incorruptible parts common to animals and to vegetables. 
These organic molecules cast themselves into the moulds or 
shapes which constituted different beings. When one of those 
moulds was destroyed by death, the organic molecules became 
free ; ever active, they worked the putrefied matter, appropriat- 
ing to themselves some raw particles and forming, said 
Buff on, *'by their reunion, a multitude of little organized 
bodies, of which some, like earthworms, and fungi, seem to 
be fair-sized animals or vegetables, but of which others, in 
almost infinite numbers, can only be seen through the 

All those bodies, according to him, only existed through 
spontaneous generation. Spontaneous generation takes place 
continually and universally after death and sometimes during 
life. Such was in his view the origin of intestinal worms. 
And, carrying his investigations further, he added, *'The eels 
in flour paste, those of vinegar, all those so-called microscopic 
animals, are but different shapes taken spontaneously, accord- 
ing to circumstances, by that ever active matter which only 
tends to organization.'' 

The Abbe Spallanzani, armed with a microscope, studied 
these infinitesimal beings. He tried to distinguish them and 
their mode of life. Needham had affirmed that by enclosing 
putrescible matter in vases and by placing those vases on warm 
ashes, he produced animalculae. Spallanzani suspected: 
firstly that Needham had not exposed the vases to a sufficient 
degree of heat to kill the seeds which were inside ; and secondly, 
that seeds could easily have entered those vases and given 
birth to animalcule, for Needham had only closed his vases 
with cork stoppers, which are very porous. 

*'I repeated that experiment with more accuracy," wrote 
Spallanzani. ''I used hermetically sealed vases. I kept them 
for an hour in boiling water, and after having opened them 
and examined their contents within a reasonable time I found 
not the slightest trace of animalculae, though I had examined 
with the microscope the infusions from nineteen different 
vases. ' ' 

Thus dropped to the ground, in Spallanzani 's eyes, Need- 
ham's singular theory, this famous vegetative force, this occult 
virtue. Yet Needham did not own himself beaten. He 
retorted that Spallanzani had much weakened, perhaps de- 
stroyed, the vegetative irvce of the infused substances by 


leaving his vases in boiling water during an hour. He advised 
him to try with less heat. 

The public took an interest in this quarrel. In an opuscule 
entitled Singularities of Nature (1769), Voltaire, a born jour- 
nalist, laughed at Needham, whom he turned into an Irish 
Jesuit to amuse his readers. Joking on this race of so-called 
eels which began life in the gravy of boiled mutton, he said: 
*'At once several philosophers exclaimed at the wonder and 
said, 'There is no germ; all is made, all is regenerated by a 
vital force of nature.' 'Attraction,' said one; 'Organized 
matter,' said another, 'they are organic molecules which have 
found their casts.' Clever physicists were taken in by a 

In those pages, lightly penned, nothing remained of what 
Voltaire called "the ridiculous mistake, the unfortunate ex- 
periments of Needham, so triumphantly refuted by M. Spal- 
lanzani and rejected by whoever has studied nature at all." 
"It is now demonstrated to sight and to reason that there is 
no vegetable, no animal but has its own germ." In his 
Philosophic Dictionary, at the word God, "It is very strange," 
said Voltaire, "that men should deny a creator and yet attrib- 
ute to themselves the power of creating eels!" The Abbe 
Needham, meeting with these religious arguments, rather 
unexpected from Voltaire, endeavoured to prove that the 
hypothesis of spontaneous generation was in perfect accordance 
with religious beliefs. But both on Needham 's side and on 
Spallanzani 's there was a complete lack of conclusive proofs. 

Philosophic argumentation always returned to the fore. As 
recently as 1846 Ernest Bersot (a moralist who became later 
a director of the Ecole Normale) wrote in his book on Spiritual- 
ism: "The doctrine of spontaneous generation pleases 
simplicity-loving minds; it leads them far beyond their own 
expectations. But it is yet only a private opinion, and, were 
it recognized, its virtue would have to be limited and narrowed 
down to the production of a few inferior animals." 

That doctrine was about to be noisily re-introduced. 

On December 20, 1858, a correspondent of the Institute, 
M. Pouchet, director of the Natural History Museum of Rouen, 
sent to the Academic des Sciences a Note on Vegetable and 
Animal Proto-orgamsms spontaneously Generated in Artificial 
Air and in Oxygen Gas, The note began thus: "At thia 

1860—1861 93 

time when, seconded by the progress of science, several 
naturalists are endeavouring to reduce the domain of spon 
taneous generation or even to deny its existence altogether, 1 
have undertaken a series of researches with the object of 
elucidating this vexed question." Pouchet, declaring that he 
had taken excessive precautions to preserve his experiments 
from any cause of error, proclaimed that he was prepared to 
demonstrate that "animals and plants could be generated in a 
medium absolutely free from atmospheric air, and in which, 
therefore, no germ of organic bodies could have been brought 
by air." 

On one copy of that communication, the opening of a four 
years' scientific campaign, Pasteur had underlined the pas- 
sages which he intended to submit to rigorous experimentation. 
The scientific world was discussing the matter; Pasteur set 
himself to work. 

A new installation, albeit a summary one, allowed him to 
attempt some delicate experiments. At one of the extremities 
of the fagade of the Ecole Normale, on the same line as the 
doorkeeper's lodge, a pavilion had been built for the school 
architect and his clerk. Pasteur succeeded in obtaining pos- 
session of this small building, and transformed it into a labora- 
tory. He built a drying stove under the staircase; though he 
could only reach the stove by crawling on his knees, yet this 
was better than his old attic. He also had a pleasant surprise 
— he was given a curator. He had deserved one sooner, f ')r he 
had founded the institution of agreges preparateurs. Kemem- 
bering his own desire, on leaving the Ecole Normale, to hnve a 
year or two for independent study, he had wished to facilitate 
for others the obtaining of those few years of research and per- 
haps inspiration. Thanks to him, five places as laboratory 
curators were exclusively reserved to Ecole Normale students 
who had taken their degree {agreges). The first curator who 
3ntered the new laboratory was Jules Raulin, a young man with 
a clear and sagacious mind, a calm and tenacious character, 
loving difficulties for the sake of overcoming them. 

Pasteur began by the microscopic study of atmospheric air. 
*'If germs exist in atmosphere," he said, "could they not 
be arrested on their way?" It then occurred to him to draw 
— through an aspirator — a current of outside air through a 
tube containing a little plug of cotton wool. The current as it 
passed dei^o^iited Qu this sort of filter some of the solid corpuscles 


contained in the air; the cotton wool often became black with 
those various kinds of dust. Pasteur assured himself that 
amongst various detritus those dusts presented spores and 
germs. "There are therefore in the air some organized cor- 
puscles. A-re they germs capable of vegetable productions, or 
of infusions? That is the question to solve." He undertook 
a series of experiments to demonstrate that the most putrescible 
liquid remained pure indefinitely if placed out of the reach of 
atmospheric dusts. But it was sufficient to place in a pure 
liquid a particle of the cotton-wool filter to obtain an immediate 

A year before starting any discussion Pasteur wrote to 
Pouchet that the results which he had attained were "not 
founded on facts of a faultless exactitude. I think you are 
wrong, not in believing in spontaneous generation (for it is 
difficult in such a case not to have a preconceived idea), but in 
affirming the existence of spontaneous generation. In ex- 
perimental science it is always a mistake not to doubt when 
facts do not compel affirmation. ... In my opinion, the ques- 
tion is whole and untouched by decisive proofs. What is there 
in air which provokes organization! Are they germs? is it a 
solid ? is it a gas ? is it a fluid ? is it a principle such as ozone ? 
All this is unknown and invites experiment. ' ' 

After a year's study, Pasteur reached this conclusion: 
** Gases, fluids, electricity, magnetism, ozone, things known 
or things occult, there is nothing in the air that is conditional 
to life, except the germs that it carries." 

Pouchet defended himself vigorously. To suppose that germs 
came from air seemed to him impossible. How many millions 
of loose eggs or spores would then be contained in a cubic 
millimetre of atmospheric air? 

"What will be the outcome of this giant's struggle?" 
grandiloquently wrote an editor of the Moniteur Scientifiqiie 
(April, 1860). Pouchet answered this anonjonous writer by 
advising him to accept the doctrine of spontaneous generation 
adopted of old by so many "men of genius." Pouchet 's prin. 
cipal disciple was a lover of science and of letters, M. Nicolas 
Joly, an agrege of natural science, doctor of medicine, and pro- 
fessor of physiology at Toulouse. He himself had a pupil, 
Charles Musset, who was preparing a thesis for his doctor's 
degree under the title: New Experimental Researches on 
Heterooenia, or Spontaneous Generation. By the words 

1860—1864 95 

heterogenia or spontaneous generation Joly and Musset agreed 
in affirming that "they did not mean a creation out of nothing, 
but the production of a new organized being, lacking parents, 
and of which the primordial elements are drawn from ambient 
organic matter." 

Thus supported, Pouchet multiplied objections to the views 
of Pasteur, who had to meet every argument. Pasteur in- 
tended to narrow more and more the sphere of discussion. It 
was an ingenious operation to take the dusts from a cotton-wool 
filter, to disseminate them in a liquid, and thus to determine 
the alteration of that liquid; but the cotton-wool itself was an 
organic substance and might be suspected. He therefore sub- 
stituted for the cotton-wool a plug of asbestos fibre, a mineral 
substance. He invented little glass flasks with a long curved 
neck; he filled them with an alterable liquid, which he de- 
prived of germs by ebullition; the flask was in communication 
with the outer air through its curved tube, but the atmospheric 
germs were deposited in the curve of the neck without reaching 
the liquid; in order that alteration should take place, the vessel 
had to be inclined until the point where the liquid reached the 
dusts in the neck. 

But Pouchet said, ''How could germs contained in the air 
be numerous enough to develop in every organic infusion? 
Such a crowd of them would produce a thick mist as dense as 
iron." Of all the difficulties this last seemed to Pa teur the 
hardest to solve. Could it not be that the dissemination of 
germs was more or less thick according to places? ''Then,*' 
cried the heterogenists, *' there would be sterile zones and 
fecund zones, a most convenient hypothesis, indeed!" Pasteur 
let them laugh whilst he was preparing a series of flasks re- 
served for divers experiments. If spontaneous generation 
existed, it should invariably occur in vessels filled with the same 
alterable liquid. "Yet it is ever possible," affirmed Pasteur, 
"to take up in certain places a notable though limited volume 
of ordinary air, having been submitted to no physical or 
chemical change, and still absolutely incapable of producing any 
alteration in an eminently putrescible liquor." He was ready 
to prove that nothing was easier than to increase or to reduce 
the number either of the vessels where productions should ap- 
pear or of the vessels where those productions should be lacking. 
After introducing into a series of flasks of a capacity of 250 
cubic centimetres a very easily corrupted liquid, such as yeast 


water, lie submitted each flask to ebullition. The neck of 
those vessels was ended off in a vertical point. Whilst the 
liquid was still boiling, he closed, with an enameller's lamp, the 
pointed opening through which the steam had rushed out, 
taking with it all the air contained in the vessel. Those flasks 
were indeed calculated to satisfy both partisans or adversaries 
of spontaneous generation. If the extremity of the neck of one 
of these vessels was suddenly broken, all the ambient air 
rushed into the flask, bringing in all the suspended dusts; the 
bulb was closed again at once with the assistance of a jet of 
flame. Pasteur could then carry it away and place it in a tem- 
perature of 25-30° C, quite suitable for the development of 
germs and mucors. 

In those series of tests some flasks showed some alteration, 
others remained pure, according to the place where the air had 
been admitted. During the beginning of the year 1860 Pasteur 
broke his bulb points and enclosed ordinary air in many dif- 
ferent places, including the cellars of the Observatory of Paris. 
There, in that zone of an invariable temperature, the abso- 
lutely calm air could not be compared to the air he gathered 
in the yard of the same building. The results were also very 
different: out of ten vessels opened in the cellar, closed again 
and placed in the stove, only one showed any alteration; whilst 
eleven others, opened in the yard, all yielded organized bodies. 
In a letter to his father (June, 1860), Pasteur wrote: ''I 
have been prevented from writing by my experiments, which 
continue to be very curious. But it is such a wide subject that 
I have almost too many ideas of experiments. I am still being 
contradicted by two naturalists, M. Pouchet of Rouen and M. 
'Joly of Toulouse. But I do not waste my time in answering 
them ; they may say what they like, truth is on my side. They 
do not know how to experiment; it is not an easy art; it de- 
mands, besides certain natural qualities, a long practice which 
naturalists have not generally acquired nowadays." 

When the long vacation approached, Pasteur, who intended 
to go on a voyage of experiments, laid in a store of glass flasks. 
He wrote to Chappuis, pn August 10, 1860: ''I fear from your 
letter that you will not go to the Alps this year. . . . Besides 
the pleasure of having you for a guide, I had hoped to utilize 
your love of science by offering you the modest part of curator. 
It is by some study of air on heights afar from habitations and 
v%^^.tntion that I want to conclude my work on so-called spon- 

1860—1864$ 97 

taneous generation. The real interest of that work for me lies 
in the connection of this subject with that of ferments which 
I shall take np again November." 

Pasteur started for Arbois, taking with him seventy-three 
flasks; he opened twenty of them not very far from his father's 
tannery, on the road to Dole, along an old road, now a path 
which leads to the mount of the Bergere. The vine labourers 
who passed him wondered what this holiday tourist could be 
doing with all those little phials ; no one suspected that he was 
penetrating one of nature's greatest secrets. ''What would 
you have?" merrily said his old friend, Jules Vercel; "it 
amuses him!" Of those twenty vessels, opened some dis- 
tance away from any dwelling, eight yielded organized bodies. 

Pasteur went on to Salins and climbed Mount Poupet, 850 
metres above the sea-level. Out of twenty vessels opened, only 
five were altered. Pasteur would have liked to charter a 
balloon in order to prove that the higher you go the fewer 
germs you find, and that certain zones absolutely pure contain 
none at all. It was easier to go into the Alps. 

He arrived at Chamonix on September 20, and engaged a 
guide to make the ascent of the Montanvert. The very next 
morning this novel sort of expedition started. A mule carried 
the case of thirty-three vessels, followed very closely by Pasteur, 
who watched over the precious burden and walked alongside 
of precipices supporting the case with one hand so that it 
should not be shaken. 

When the first experiments were started an incident occurred. 
Pasteur has himself related this fact in his report to the 
Academic. "In order to close again the point of the flasks 
after taking in the air, I had taken with me an eolipyle spirit- 
lamp. The dazzling whiteness of the ice in the sunlight was 
such that it was impossible to distinguish the jet of burning 
alcohol, and as moreover that was slightly moved by the wind, 
it never remained on the broken glass long enough to her- 
metically seal my vessel. All the means I might have em- 
ployed to make the flame visible and consequently directable 
would inevitably have given rise to causes of error by spreading 
strange dusts into the air. I was therefore obliged to bring 
back to the little inn of iMontanvert, unsealed, the flasks which 
I had opened on the glacier." 

The inn was a sort of hut, letting in wind and rain. The 
thirteen open vessels were exposed to all the dusts in the room 


where Pastenr slept; nearly all of them presented altera- 

In the meanwhile the guide was sent to Chamonix where a 
tinker undertook to modify the lamp in view of the coming 

The next morning, twenty flasks, which have remained cele- 
brated in the world of scientific investigators, were brought to 
the Mer de Glace. Pasteur gathered the air with infinite pre- 
cautions; he used to enjoy relating these details to those people 
who call everything easy. After tracing with a steel point a 
line on the glass, careful lest dusts should become a cause of 
error, he began by heating the neck and fine point of the bulb 
in the flame of the little spirit-lamp. Then raising the vessel 
above his head, he broke the point with steel nippers, the long 
ends of which had also been heated in order to burn the dusts 
which might be on their surface and which would have been 
driven into the vessel by the quick inrush of the air. Of those 
twenty flasks, closed again immediately, only one was altered. 
**If all the results are compared that I have obtained until 
now,'* he wrote, on March 5, 1880, when relating this journey 
to the Academic, *'it seems to me that it can be affirmed that 
the dusts suspended in atmospheric air are the exclusive origin, 
the necessary condition of life in infusions.'* 

And in an unnoticed little sentence, pointing already then to 
the goal he had in view, **What would be most desirable would 
be to push those studies far enough to prepare the road for a 
serious research into the origin of various diseases." The 
action of those little beings, agents not only of fermentation but 
also of disorganization and putrefaction, already dawned upon 

"While Pasteur was going from the Observatoire cellars to the 
Mer de Glace, Pouchet w^as gathering air on the plains of 
Sicily, making experiments on Etna, and on the sea. He saw 
everywhere, he wrote, **air equally favourable to organic 
genesis, whether surcharged with detritus in the midst of our 
populous cities, or taken on the summit of a mountain, or on 
the sea, where it offers extreme purity. With a cubic deci* 
metre of air, taken where you like, I affirm that j^ou can ever 
produce legions of microzoa." 

And the heterogenists proclaimed in unison that '' every- 
where, strictly everywhere, air is constantly favourable to life." 
Those who followed the 4ebate nearly all \eaned to^vardg 

1860—18645 ^9 

Pouchet. *'I am afraid," wrote a scientific journalist in La 
Presse (1860), 'Hhat the experiments you quote, M. Pasteur, 
will turn against you. . . . The world into which you wish to 
take us is really too fantastic. . . .'* 

And yet some adversaries should have been struck by the 
efforts of a mind which, while marching forward to establish 
new facts, was ever seeking arguments against itself, and 
turned back to strengthen points which seemed yet weak. In 
November, Pasteur returned to his studies on fermentations in 
general and lactic fermentation in particular. Endeavouring 
to bring into evidence the animated nature of the lactic ferment, 
and to indicate the most suitable surroundings for the self- 
development of that ferment, he had come across some compli- 
cations which hampered the purity and the progress of that 
culture. Then he had perceived another fermentation, following 
upon lactic fermentation and known as butyric fermentation. 
As he did not immediately perceive the origin of this butyric 
acid — which causes the bad smell in rancid butter — he ended 
by being struck by the inevitable coincidence between the (then 
called) infusory animalculae and the production of this acid. 

"The most constantly repeated tests," he wrote in February, 
1861, ''have convinced me that the transformation of sugar, 
mannite and lactic acid into butyric acid is due exclusively to 
those Infusories, and they must be considered as the real 
butyric ferment." Those vibriones that Pasteur described a3 
under the shape of small cylindric rods with rounded ends, 
sliding about, sometimes in a chain of three or four articles, 
he sowed in an appropriate medium, as he sowed beer yeast. 
But, by a strange phenomenon, ''those infusory animalculae, " 
he said, "live and multiply indefinitely, vnthout requiring the 
least quantity of air. And not only do they live without air, 
but air actually kills them. It is sufficient to send a current of 
atmospheric air during an hour or two through the liquor 
where those vibriones were multiplying to cause them all to 
perish and thus to arrest butyric fermentation, whilst a current 
of pure carbonic acid gas passing through that same liquor 
hindered them in no way. Thence this double proposition," 
concluded Pasteur; "the butyric ferment is an infusory; that 
infusory lives without free oxygen." He afterwards called 
anaerobes those beings which do not require air, in opposition 
to the name of aerobes given to other microscopic beings who 
req^iire air to live. 


Biot, without knowing all the consequences of these studies, 
had not been long in perceiving that he had been far too 
sceptical, and that physiological discoveries of the very first 
rank would be the outcome of researches on so-called spcm- 
taneous generation. He would have wished, before he died, not 
only that Pasteur should be the unanimously selected candidate 
for the 1861 Zecker prize in the Chemistry Section, but also 
that his friend, forty-eight years younger than himself, should 
be a member of the Institute. At the beginning of 1861, there 
was one vacancy in the Botanical Section. Biot took advan- 
tage of the researches pursued by Pasteur within the last three 
years, to say and to print that he should be nominated as a 
candidate. *^I can hear the commonplace objection: he is a 
chemist, a physicist, not a professional botanist. . . . But that 
very versatility, ever active and ever successful, should be a 
title in his favour. . . . Let us judge of men by their works 
and not by the destination more or less wide or narrow that they 
have marked out for themselves. Pasteur made his debut 
before the Academic in 1848, with the remarkable treatise 
which contained by implication the resolution of the paratartaric 
acid into its two components, right and left. He was then 
twenty-six; the sensation produced is not forgotten. Since 
then, during the twelve years which followed, he has submitted 
to your appreciation twenty-one papers, the last ten relating 
to vegetable physiology. All are full of new facts, often very 
unexpected, several very far reaching, not one of which has 
been found inaccurate by competent judges. If to-day, by 
your suffrage, you introduce M. Pasteur into the Botanical 
Section, as you might safely have done for Theodore de 
Saussure or Ingenhousz, you will have acquired for the Acade- 
mic and for that particular section an experimentalist of the 
same order as those two great men." 

Balard, who in this academic campaign made common cause 
with Biot, was also making efforts to persuade several mem- 
bers of the Botanical Section. He was walking one day in the 
Luxembourg with Moquin-Tandon, pouring out, in his rasping 
voice, arguments in favour of Pasteur. ''Well," said Moquin- 
Tandon, ''let us go to Pasteur's, and if you find a botanical 
work in his library I shall put him on the list. ' ' It was a witty- 
form given to the scruples of the botanists. Pasteur only had 
^entv-four votes: Duchartre was elected. 

The study of a microscopic fungus, capable by itself of 

1860—1864' 101 

transforming wine into vinegar, the bringing to light of the 
action of that mycoderma, endowed with the power of taking 
oxygen from air and fixing it upon alcohol, thus transforming 
the latter into acetic acid; the most ingenious experiments to 
demonstrate the absolute and exclusive power of the little plant, 
all gave reason to Biot's affirmation that such skill in the obser- 
vation of inferior vegetables equalled any botanist's claim. 
Pasteur, showing that the interpretations of the causes which 
act in the formation of vinegar were false, and that alone the 
microscopic fungus did everything, was constantly dwelling on 
this power of the infinitesimally small. *' Mycoderma," he 
said, **can bring the action of combustion of the oxygen in air 
to bear on a number of organic materia. If microscopic beings 
were to disappear from our globe, the surface of the earth 
would be encumbered with dead organic matter and corpses of 
all kinds, animal and vegetable. It is chiefly they who give 
to oxygen its powers of combustion. Without them, life would 
become impossible because death would be incomplete." 

Pasteur *s ideas on fermentation and putrefaction were being 
adopted by disciples unknown to him. *'I am sending you," 
he wrote to his father, **a treatise on fermentation, which was 
the subject of a recent competition at the Montpellier Faculty. 
This work is dedicated to me by its author, whom I do not know 
at all, a circumstance which shows that my results are spread- 
ing and exciting some attention. 

**I have only read the last pages, which have pleased me; if 
the rest is the same, it is a very good resume, entirely conceived 
in the new direction of my labours, evidently well understood 
bv this voung doctor. 

'*M. Biot is very well, only suffering a little from insomnia. 
He has, fortunately for his health, finished that great account 
of my former results which will be the greatest title I can have 
to the esteem of scientists." 

Biot died without having realized his last wish, which was to 
have Pasteur for a colleague. It was only at the end of the 
year 1862 that Pasteur was nominated by the Mineralogical 
Section for the seat of Senarmont. This new candidature did 
not go without a hitch. In his study on tartrates, Pasteur, as 
will be remembered, had discovered that their crystalline forms 
■were hemihedral. "Wlien he examined the characteristic faces, 
he held the crystal in a particular way and said: "It is hemi- 
hedral on the right side." A German mineralogist, name<5 


Rammelsberg, holding the crystal in the opposite direction, 
said: **It is hemihedral on the left side." It was a mere 
matter of conventional orientation; nothing was changed in the 
scientific results announced by Pasteur. But some adversaries 
made a weapon of that inverted crystal; not a dangerous 
weapon, thought Pasteur at first, fancying that a few words 
would clear the misunderstanding. But the campaign per- 
sisted, with insinuations, murmurs, whisperings. When 
Pasteur saw this simple difference in the way the crystal was 
held stigmatised as a cause of error, he desired to cut short this 
quarrel made in Germany. He then had with him no longer 
Eaulin, but M. Duclaux, who was beginning his scientific life. 
M. Duclaux remembers one day when Pasteur, seeing that 
incontrovertible arguments were required, sent for a cabinet 
maker with his tools. He superintended the making of a com- 
plete wooden set of the crystalline forms of tartrates, a gigantic 
set, such as Gulliver might have seen in Brobdingnag if he had 
studied geometrical forms in that island. A coating of coloured 
paper finished the work; green paper marked the hemihedral 
face. A member of the Philomathic Society, Pasteur asked 
the Society to give up the meeting of November 8, 1862, to the 
discussion of that subject. Several of his colleagues vainly 
endeavoured to dissuade him from that intention; Pasteur 
hearkened to no one. He took with him his provision of 
wooden crystals, and gave a vivid and impassioned lecture. 
**If you know the question," he asked his adversaries, ** where 
is your conscience? If you know it not, why meddle with 
it?" And with one of his accustomed sudden turns, "What 
is all this?" he added. *'One of those incidents to which we 
all, more or less, are exposed by the conditions of our career; 
no bittemeps remains behind. Of what account is it in the 
presence of those mysteries, so varied, so numerous, that we 
all, in divers directions, are working to clear? It is true I 
have had recourse to an unusual means of defending myself 
against attacks not openly published, but I think that means 
was safe and loyal, and deferential towards you. And," he 
added, thinking of Biot and Senarmont, "will you have my 
full confession? You know that I had during fifteen years the 
inestimable advantage of the intercourse of two men who are 
no more, but whose scientific probity shone as one of the 
beacons of tlie Academic des Sciences. Before deciding on the 
course I have now followed, I questioned my memory and 

1860— 1864j 103 

endeavoured to revive their advice, and it seemed to me that 
they would not have disowned me. ' ' 

M. Duclaux said about this meeting: ** Pasteur has since 
then won many oratorical victories. I do not know of a greater 
one than that deserved by that acute and penetrating improvisa- 
tion. He was still much heated as we were walking back to 
the Kue d'Ulm, and I remember making him laugh by asking 
him why, in the state of mind he was in, he had not concluded 
by hurling his wooden crystals at his adversaries' heads." 

On December 8, 1862, Pasteur was elected a member of the 
Academic des Sciences; out of sixty voters he received thirty- 
six suffrages. 

The next morning, when the gates of the Montparnasse 
cemetery were opened, a woman walked towards Biot's grave 
with her hands full of flowers. It was Mme. Pasteur who was 
bringing them to him who lay there since February 5, 1862, 
md who had loved Pasteur with so deep an affection. 

A letter picked up at a sale of autographs, one of the last 
Biot wrote, gives a finishing touch to his moral portrait. It 
is addressed to an unknown person discouraged with this life. 
**Sir, — The confidence you honour me with touches me. But 
I am not a physician of souls. However, in my opinion, you 
could not do better than seek remedies to your moral suffering 
in work, religion, and charit}^ A useful work taken up with 
energy and persevered in will revive by occupation the forces 
of your mind. Religious feelings will console you by inspiring 
you with patience. Charity manifested to others will soften 
your sorrows and teach you that you are not alone to suffer in 
this life. Look around you, and you will see afflicted ones more 
to be pitied than yourself. Try to ease their sufferings; the 
good you will do to them will fall back upon yourself and will 
ehow you that a life which can thus be employed is not a burden 
which cannot, which must not be borne." 

On his entering the Academic des Sciences, Balard and 
Dumas advised Pasteur to let alone his wooden crystals and to 
continue his studies on ferments. He undertook to demon- 
strate that *'the hypothesis of a phenomenon of mere contact 
is not more admissible than the opinion which placed the fer- 
ment character exclusively in dead albuminoid matter. Whilst 
continuing his researches on beings which could live without 
air, he tried, as he went along, a propos of spontaneous genera- 
tion, to find some weak point in his work. Until now the 


liquids he had used, however alterable they were, had been 
brought up to boiling point. Was there not some new and 
decisive experiment to make? Could he not study organic 
matter as constituted by life and expose to the contact of air 
deprived of its germs some fresh liquids, highly putrescible, 
such as blood and urine? Claude Bernard, joining in these 
experiments of Pasteur's, himself took some blood from a dog. 
This blood was sealed up in a glass phial, with every condition 
of purity, and the phial remained in a stove constantly heated 
up to 30° C. from March 3 until April 20, 1862, when Pasteur 
laid it on the Academic table. The blood had suffered no sort 
of putrefaction; neither had some urine treated in the same 
way. ''The conclusions to which I have been led by my first 
series of experiments," said Pasteur before the Academic, *'are 
therefore applicable in all cases to organic substances." 

While studying putrefaction, which is itself but a fermenta^ 
tion applied to animal materia, while showing the marvellous 
power of the infinitesimally small, he foresaw the immensity 
of the domain he had conquered, as will be proved by the fol- 
lowing incident. Some time after the Academic election, in 
March, 1863, the Emperor, who took an interest in all that 
took place in the small laboratory of the Rue d'Ulm, desired- 
to speak with Pasteur. J. B. Dumas claimed the privilege of 
presenting his former pupil, and the interview took place at the" 
Tuileries. Napoleon questioned Pasteur with a gentle, slightly 
dreamy insistence. Pasteur wrote the next day: *'I assured 
the Emperor that all my ambition was to arrive at the knowl- 
edge of the causes of putrid and contagious diseases." 

In the meanwhile, the chapter on ferments was not yet 
closed; Pasteur was attracted by studies on wine. At the 
beginning of the 1863 holidays, just before starting for Arbois, 
he drew up this programme with one of his pupils: *'Prom the 
20th to the 30th (August) preparation in Paris of all the 
vessels, apparatus, products, that we must take. September 1, 
departure for the Jura; installation; purchase of the products 
of a vineyard. Immediate beginning of tests of all kinds. We 
shall have to hurry; grapes do not keep long." 

Whilst he was preparing this vintage tour, which he in- 
tended to make with three ' * Normaliens, " Duclaux, Gernez 
and Lechartier, the three heterogenists, Pouchet, Joly and 
Musset, proposed to use that same time in fighting Pasteur 
rt ^V2 own ground. They started from B^.gneres-de-Luchon 

1860— 1854j 105 

followed by several guides and taking with them all kinds 
of provisions and some little glass flasks witn a siendf^X pointed 
neck. They crossed the pass of Venasque without incident 
and decided to go further, to the Rencluse. Some isard- 
stalkers having come towards the strange-looking party, they 
were signalled away; even the guides were invited to stand 
aside. It was necessary to prevent any dusts from reaching 
the bulbs, which were thus opened at 8 p.m. at a height 
of 2,083 metres. But eighty-three metres higher than the 
Montanvert did not seem to them enough, they wished to 
go higher. '*We shall sleep on the mountain," said the 
three scientists. Fatigue and bitter cold, they withstood 
everything with the courage inspired by a problem to solve. 
The next morning they climbed across that rocky chaos, and 
at last reached the foot of one of the greatest glaciers of the 
Maladetta, 3,000 metres above the sea-level. *'A very 
deep narrow crevasse," says Pouchet, *' seemed to as the 
most suitable place for our experiments." Four phials (filled 
with a decoction of hay) were opened and sealed again with 
precautions that Pouchet considered as exaggerated. 

Pouchet, in his merely scientific report, does not relate 
the return journey, yet more perilous than the ascent. At 
one of the most dangerous places, Joly slipped, and would 
have rolled into a precipice, but for the strength and presence 
of mind of one of the guides. All three at last came back 
to Luchon, forgetful of dangers run, and glorying at havin» 
reached 1,000 metres higher than Pasteur. They triumphed 
when they saw alteration in their flasks! ** Therefore,*' 
said Pouchet, '^the air of the Maladetta, and of high 
mountains in general, is not incapable of producing altera- 
tion in an eminently putrescible liquor; therefore heterogenia 
or the production of a new being devoid of parents, but 
formed at the expense of ambient organic matter, is for us a 

The Academy of Sciences was taking more and more 
interest in this debate. In November, 1863, Joly and Musset 
expressed a wish that the Academy should appoint a Com- 
mission, before whom the principal experiments of Pasteur 
and of his adversaries should be repeated. On this occasion 
Flourens expressed his opinion thus: *'I am blamed in certain 
quarters for having no opinion on the question of spontaneous 
generation. As long as my opinion was not formed, I bad 


nothing to say. It is now formed, and I give it: M. Pasteur's 
experiments are decisive. If spontaneous generation is real, 
W;liat is required to obtain animalculae? Air and putrescible 
liquor. M. Pasteur puts air and putrescible liquor together 
and nothing happens. Therefore spontaneous generation is 
not. To doubt further is to misunderstand the question. '* 

Already in the preceding year, the Academie itself had 
evidenced its opinion by giving Pasteur the prize of a com- 
petition proposed in these terms: **To attempt to throw some 
new light upon the question of so-called spontaneous genera- 
tion by well-conducted experiments.'' Pasteur's treatise on 
Organized Corpuscles existing in Atmosphere had been unani- 
mously preferred. Pasteur might have entrenched himself 
behind the suffrages of the Academy, but begged it, in order 
to close those incessant debates, to appoint the Commission 
demanded by Joly and Musset. 

The members of the Commission were Flourens, Dumas, 
Brongniart, Milne-Edwards, and Balard. Pasteur wished 
that the discussion should take place as soon as possible, and 
it was fixed for the first fortnight in March. But Pouchet, 
Joly and Musset asked for a delay on account of the cold. 
**We consider that it might compromise, perhaps prevent, 
our results, to operate in a temperature which often goes below 
zero even in the south of France. How do we know that it 
will not freeze in Paris between the first and fifteenth of 
March?'' They even asked the Commission to adjourn ex- 
periments until the summer. *'I am much surprised," wrote 
Pasteur, *'at the delay sought by Messrs. Pouchet, Joly and 
Musset; it would have been easy with a stove to raise the 
temperature to the degree required by those gentlemen. For 
my part I hasten to assure the Academy that I am at its 
disposal, and that in summer, or in any other season, I am 
ready to repeat my experiments." 

Some evening scientific lectures had just been inaugurated 
at the Sorbonne; such a subject as spontaneous generation 
was naturally on the programme. When Pasteur entered the 
large lecture room of the Sorbonne on April 7, 1864, he 
must have been reminded of the days of his youth, when 
crowds came, as to a theatrical performance, to hear J. B. 
Dumas speak. Dumas' pupil, now a master, in his tun), 
found a still greater crowd invading every corner. Amongst 
the professors and students, such celebrities as Dumy, 

1B60— 1864 107 

Alexandre Dumas senior, George Sand, Princess Mathilde, 
were being pointed out. Around them, the inevitable 
*' smart" people who must see everything and be seen every- 
where, without whom no function favoured by fashion 
would be complete; in short what is known as the ''Tout 
Paris." But this "Tout Paris" was about to receive a novel 
impression, probably a lasting one. The man who stood 
before this fashionable audience was not one of those 
speakers who attempt by an insinuating exordium to gain 
the good graces of their hearers; it was a grave-looking 
man, his face full of quiet energy and reflective force. He 
began in a deep, firm voice, evidently earnestly convinced 
of the greatness of his mission as a teacher: ''Great prob- 
lems are now being handled, keeping every thinking man in 
suspense; the unity or multiplicity of human races; the 
creation of man 1,000 years or 1,000 centuries ago, the 
fixity of species, or the slow and progressive transformation 
of one species into another; the eternity of matter; the idea 
of a God unnecessary. Such are some of the questions that 
humanity discusses nowadays." 

He had now, he continued, entered upon a subject ac- 
cessible to experimentation, and which he had made the object 
of the strictest and most conscientious studies. Can matter 
organize itself? Can living beings come into the world 
without having been preceded by beings similar to them ? After 
showing that the doctrine of spontaneous generation had 
gradually lost ground, he explained how the invention of 
the microscope had caused it to reappear at the end of the 
seventeenth century, "in the face of those beings, so numer- 
ous, so varied, so strange in their shapes, the origin of which 
was connected with the presence of all dead vegetable and 
animal matter in a state of disorganization." He went on 
to say how Pouchet had taken up this studj^, and to point 
out the errors that this new partisan of an old doctrine had 
committed, errors difficult to recognize at first. With perfect 
clearness and simplicity, Pasteur explained how the dusts which 
are suspended in air contain germs of inferior organized beings 
and how a liquid preserved, by certain precautions, from the 
contact of these germs can be kept indefinitely, giving his 
audience a glimpse of his laboratory methods. 

"Here," he said, "is an infusion of organic matter, as 
fimpid as distilled water, and extremely alterable. It has been 


prepared to-day. To-morrow it will contain animalculse, little 
infusories, or flakes of mouldiness. 

*'I place a portion of that infusion into a flask with a long 
neck, like this one. Suppose I boil the liquid and leave it to 
cool. After a few days, mouldiness or animalculaB will develop 
in the liquid. By boiling, I destroyed any germs contained in 
the liquid or against the glass; but that infusion being again 
in contact with air, it becomes altered, as all infusions do. 
Now suppose I repeat this experiment, but that, before boiling 
the liquid, I draw (by means of an enameller's lamp) the neck 
of the flask into a point, leaving, however, its extremity open. 
This being done, I boil the liquid in the flask, and leave it to 
cool. Now the liquid of this second flask will remain pure not 
only two days, a month, a year, but three cr four years — for 
the experiment I am telling you about is already four years old, 
and the liquid remains as limpid as distilled water. What dif- 
ference is there, then, between those two vases? They contain 
the same liquid, they both contain air, both are open! "Why 
does one decay and the other remain pure? The only dif- 
ference between them is this: in the first case, the dusts sus- 
pended in air and their germs can fall into the neck of the 
flask and arrive into contact with the liquid, where they find 
appropriate food and develop; thence microscopic beings. In 
the second flask, on the contrary, it is impossible, or at least 
extremely difficult, unless air is violently shaken, that dusts 
suspended in air should enter the vase; they fall on its curved 
neck. When air goes in and out of the vase through diffusions 
or variations of temperature, the latter never being sudden, the 
air comes in slowly enough to drop the dusts and germs that 
it carries at the opening of the neck or in the first curves. 

'*This experiment is full of instruction; for this must be 
noted, that everything in air save its dusts can easily enter the 
vase and come into contact with the liquid. Imagine what you 
choose in the air — electricity, magnetism, ozone, unknown 
forces even, all can reach the infusion. Only one thing cannot 
enter easily, and that is dust, suspended in air. And the proof 
of this is that if I shake the vase violently two or three times, 

in a few days it contains animalculas or mouldiness. Why? 

because air has come in violently enough to carry dust with it. 

**And, therefore, gentlemen, I could point to that liquid and 

say to you, I have taken my drop of water from the immensity of 

creation, and I have taken it full of the elements appropriated 

1860—1864 109 

to the development of inferior beings. And I wait, I watch, 
I question it, begging it to recommence for me the beautiful 
spectacle of the first creation. But it is dumb, dumb since 
these experiments were begun several years ago; it is dumb 
because I have kept it from the only thing man cannot pro* 
duce, from the germs which float in the air, from Life, for Lift 
is a germ and a germ is Life. Never will the doctrine of spon 
taneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this simple 

The public enthusiastically applauded these words, whiclr 
ended the lecture: 

*'No, there is now no circumstance known in which it can be 
affirmed that microscopic beings came into the world without 
germs, without parents similar to themselves. Those who 
affirm it have been duped by illusions, by ill-conducted experi- 
ments, spoilt by errors that they either did not perceive or did 
not know how to avoid.*' 

In the meanwhile, besides public lectures and new studies, 
Pasteur succeeded in *' administering " the Ecole Normale in 
the most complete sense of the word. His influence was such 
that students acquired not a taste but a passion for study; he 
directed each one in his own line, he awakened their instincts. 
It was already through his wise inspiration that five *'Nor- 
maliens agreges" should have the chance of the five curators' 
places; but his solicitude did not stop there. If some disap- 
pointment befell some former pupil, still in that period of youth 
which doubts nothing or nobody, he came vigorously to his 
assistance; he was the counsellor of the future. A few letters 
will show how he understood his responsibility. 

A Normalien, Paul Dalimier, received 1st at the agregation 
of Physics in 1858, afterwards Natural History curator at the 
Ecole, and who, having taken his doctor's degree, asked to be 
sent to a Faculty, was ordered to go to the Lycee of Chaumont. 

In the face of this almost disgrace he wrote a despairing 
letter to Pasteur. He could do nothing more, he said, his career 
was ruined. **My dear sir," answered Pasteur, *'I much regret 
that I could not see you before your departure for Chaumont. 
But here is the advice which I feel will be useful to you. Do 
not manifest your just displeasure; but attract attention from 
the very first by your zeal and talent. In a word, aggravate, 
by your fine discharge of your new duties, the injustice which 
has been committed. The discouragement expressed in youf 


last letter is not worthy of a man of science. Keep but tliree 
objects before your eyes: your class, your pupils and the work 
you have begun. ... Do your duty to the best of your ability 
without troubling about the rest." 

Pasteur undertook the rest himself. He went to the Liinistry 
to complain of the injustice and unfairness, from a general point 
of view, of that nomination. 

*'Sir," answered the Chaumont exile, **I have received your 
kind letter. My deep respect for every word of yours will 
^larantee my intention to follow your advice. I have given 
myself up entirely to my class. I have found here a Physics 
cabinet in a deplorable state, and I have undertaken to re* 
organise it." 

He had not time to finish : justice was done, and Paul Dalimier 
was made maUre des conferences at the Ecole Normale. H^ 
died at twenty-eight. 

The wish that masters and pupils should remain in touch 
with each other after the three years at the Ecole Normale had 
already in 1859 inspired Pasteur to write a report on the desir- 
ableness of an annual report entitled. Scientific Annals of the 
Ecole Normale. 

The initiative of pregnant ideas often is traced back to 
France. But, through want of tenacity, she allows those same 
ideas to fall into decay and they are taken up by other nations, 
transplanted, developed, until they come back unrecognized to 
their mother country. Germany had seen the possibilities of 
such a publication as Pasteur's projected Annals. Penan wrote 
about that time to the editors of the Bevue Germanique, a 
Review intended to draw France and Germany together: '*In 
France, nothing is made public until achieved and ripened. 
In Germany, a work is given out provisionally, not as a teach 
ing, but as an incitement to think, as a ferment for the mind. 

Pasteur felt all the power of that intellectual ferment. In 
the volume entitled Centenary of the Ecole NormaXe, M. Gemez 
has recalled Pasteur's enthusiasm when he spoke of those 
Annals. "Was it not for former pupils, away in the provinces, 
a means of collaborating with their old masters and of keep- 
ing in touch with Paris? 

It was in June, 1864, that Pasteur presented the first 
number of this publication to the Academic des Sciences. M. 
trernez, who was highly thought of by Pasteur, has not related 
in the Centenary that the book opened with, some of his own 


1860— 1864j 111 

researclies on the rotatory power of certain liquids and theit 

At that same time, the heterogenists had at last placed them- 
selves at the disposal of the Academic and were invited to meet 
Pasteur before the Natural History Commission at M. 
Chevreurs laboratory. ''I affirm," said Pasteur, *'that in 
any place it is possible to take up from the ambient atmosphere 
a determined volume of air containing neither egg nor spore 
and producing no generation in putrescible solutions.'* The 
Commission declared that, the whole contest bearing upon one 
simple fact, one experiment only should take place. The 
heterogenists wanted to recommence a whole series of experi- 
ments, thus reopening the discussion. The Commission re- 
fused, and the heterogenists, unwilling to concede the point, 
retired from the field, repudiating the arbiters that they had 
themselves chosen. 

And yet Joly had written to the A^cad^mie, *'lf one only 
of our flasks remains pure, we will loyally own onr defeat/* 
A scientist who later became Permanent Secretary of the 
Aeademie des Sciences, Jamin, wrote about thij^ 'sonfliot' 
**The heterogenists, however they may have eoloured th^ir 
retreat, have condemned themselves. If they had been «mr€ 
of the fact — ^which they had solemnly engaged to prove oi to 
own themselves vanquished, — they would have insisted oc 
showing it, it would have been the triumph of their doc^trine." 

The heterogenists appealed to the public. A few days after 
their defeat, Joly gave a lecture at the Faculty of Medicine. 
He called the trial, as decided on by the Commission, a **circxis 
competition*'; he was applauded by those who saw other than 
scientific questions in the matter. The problem was now com- 
ing down from mountains and laboratories into the arena of so- 
ciety discussions. If all comes from a germ, people said, whence 
came the first germ? "We must bow before that mystery, 
said Pasteur; it is the question of the origin of all things, and 
absolutelj^ outside the domain of scientific research. But an 
invincible curiosity exists amongst most men which cannot 
admit that science should have the wisdom to content itself 
with the vast space between the beginning of the world and 
the unknown future. Many people transform a question of 
fact into a question of faith. Though Pasteur had brought into 
his researches a solely scientific preoccupation, many people 
appro\ed or blamed him as the defender of a religious caijse, 


Vainlv had lie said, ** There is here no question of religio7l, 
philosophy, atheism, materialism, or spiritualism. I might 
even add that they do not matter to me as a scientist. It is a 
question of fact; when I took it up I was as ready to be con- 
vinced by experiments that spontaneous generation exists as 
I am now persuaded that those who believe it are blind' 

It might have been thought that Pasteur's arguments were 
in support of a philosophical theory! It seemed impossible 
to those whose ideas came from an ardent faith, from the 
influence of their surroundings, from personal pride or from 
interested calculations to understand that a man should seek 
truth for its own sake and with no other object than to pro- 
claim it. Hostilities were opened, journalists kept up the fire. 
A priest, the Abbe Moigno spoke of converting unbelievers 
through the proved non-existence of spontaneous generation. 
The celebrated novelist, Edmond About, took up Pouchet's 
cause with sparkling irony. **M. Pasteur preached at the 
Sorbonne amidst a concert of applause which must have glad- 
dened the angels.'' 

Thus, among the papers and reviews of that time we can 
follow the divers ideas brought out by these discussions. 
Guizot, then almost eighty, touched on this problem with the 
slightly haughty assurance of one conscious of ha^dng given 
much thought to his beliefs and destiny. *'Man has not been 
formed through spontaneous generation, that is by a creative 
and organizing force inherent in matter; scientific observa- 
tion daily overturns that theory, by which, moreover, it is im- 
possible to explain the first appearance upon the earth of man 
in his complete state." And he praised **M. Pasteur, who 
has brought into this question the light of his scrupulous 

Nisard was a wondering witness of what took place in the 
small laboratory of the Ecole Normale. Ever preoccupied by 
the relations between science and religion, he heard with some 
surprise Pasteur saying modestly, ''Researches on primary 
causes are not in the domain of Science, which only recognizes 
facts and phenomena which it can demonstrate." 

Pasteur did not disinterest himself from the great problems 
which he called the eternal subjects of men's solitary medita- 
tions. But he did not admit the interference of religion with 
science any more than that of science with religion. 

1860—1864 113 

His eagerness during a conflict was only equalled by his 
absolute forgetfulness after the conflict was over. He 
answered some one who, years later, reminded him of that 
past so full of attacks and praises. '*A man of science should 
think of what will be said of him in the following century, not 
of the insults or the compliments of one day." 

Pasteur, anxious to regain lost time, hurried to return to his 
studies on wine. ** Might not the diseases of wines," he said 
at the Academies des Sciences in January, 1864, *'be caused 
by organized ferments, microscopic vegetations, of which the 
germs would develop when certain circumstances of tempera- 
ture, of atmospheric variations, of exposure to air, would 
favour their evolution or their introduction into wines? . . , 
I have indeed reached this result that the alterations of wines 
are co-existent with the presence and multiplication of micro- 
scopic vegetations.*^ Acid wines, bitter wines, **ropy" wines, 
sour wines, fee had studied them all with a microscope, his 
surest guide in recognizing the existence and form of the evil. 

As he had more particularly endeavoured to remedy the cause 
of the aciditv which often ruins the Jura red or white wines 
in the wood, the town of Arbois^ proud of its celebrated rosy 
ind tawny wines, placed an impromptu laboratory at his 
disposal during the holidays of 1864 j the expenses were all to 
be covered by the town. **This spontaneous offer from a town 
dear to me for so many reasons,*' answered Pasteur to the 
Mayor and Town Council, **does too much honour to my 
modest labours, and the way in which it is made covers me with 
confusion.'* He refused it however, fearing that the services 
he might render should not be proportionate to the generosity 
fol the Council. He preferred to camp out with his curators 
in an old coffee room at the entrance of the town, and they 
contented themselves with apparatus of the most primitive 
description, generally made by some local tinker or shoeing 

The problem consisted, in Pasteur's view, in opposing the 
development of organized ferments or parasitic vegetations, 
causes of the diseases of wines. After some fruitless en- 
deavours to destroy all vitality in the germs of these parasites, 
he found that it was sufficient to keep the wine for a few 
moments at a temperature of 50° C. to 60^ C. **I have also 
ascertained that wine was never altered by that preliminary 
operation, and as nothing prevents it afterwards from undep* 


going the gradual action of the oxygen in the air — ^the only 
cause, as I think, of its improvement with age — it is evident 
that this process offers every advantage." 

It seems as if that simple and practical means, applicable 
to every quality of wine, now only had to be tried. But not so. 
Every progress is opposed by prejudice, petty jealousies, in- 
dolence even. A devoted obstinacy is required in order to 
overcome this opposition. Pasteur's desire was that his 
country should benefit by his discovery. An Englishman had 
written to him: *' People are astonished in France that the 
sale of French wines should not have become more extended 
here since the Commercial Treaties. The reason is simple 
enough. At first we eagerly welcomed those wines, but we 
soon had the sad experience that there was too much loss 
occasioned by the diseases to which they are subject." 

Pasteur was in the midst of those discussions, experimental 
sittings, etc., when J. B. Dumas suddenly asked of him the 
greatest of sacrifices, that of leaving the laboratory. 


An epidemic was ruining in terrible proportions the industry 
of the cultivation of silkworms. J. B. Dumas had been desired, 
as Senator, to draw up a report on the wishes of over 3,500 
proprietors in sericicultural departments, all begging the public 
authorities to study the question of the causes of the pro- 
tracted epidemic. Dumas was all the more preoccupied as 
to the fate of sericiculture that he himself came from one of 
the stricken departments. He was born on July 14, 1800, 
in one of the back streets of the town of Alais, to which he 
enjoyed returning as a celebrated scientist and a dignitary of 
the Empire. He gave much attention to all the problems 
which interested the national prosperity and considered that 
the best judges in these matters were the men of science. He 
well knew the conscientious tenacity — ^besides other character- 
istics — ^which his pupil and friend brought into any under- 
taking, and anxiously urged him to undertake this study. 
*'Your proposition,'' wrote Pasteur in a few hurried lines, 
'throws me into a great perplexity; it is indeed most flatter- 
ing and the object is a high one, but it troubles and em- 
barrasses me ! Remember, if you please, that I have never 
even touched a silkworm. If I had some of your knowledge 
on the subject I should not hesitate; it may even come within 
the range of my present studies. However, the recollection of 
your many kindnesses to me would leave me bitter regrets if I 
were to decline your pressing invitation. Do as you like with 
me." On May 17, 1865, Dumas wrote: ''I attach the greatest 
value to seeing your attention fixed on the question which 
interests my poor country; the distress is beyond anything 
you can imagine." 

Before his departure for Alais, Pasteur had read an essay 
on the history of the silkworm, published by one of his col» 



leagues, Quatrefages, born like Dumas in the Gard. Quatre- 
fages attributed to an Empress of China the first knowledge 
of the art of utilizing silk, more than 4,000 years ago. The 
Chinese, in possession of the precious insect, had jealously 
preserved the monopoly of its culture, even to the point of 
making it a capital offence to take beyond the frontiers of the 
Empire the eggs of the silkworm. A young princess, 2,000 
years later, had the courage to infringe this law for love of 
her betrothed, whom she was going to join in the centre of 
Asia, and also through the almost equally strong desire to 
continue her fairy-like occupation after her marriage. 

Pasteur appreciated the pretty legend, but was more in- 
terested in the history of the acclimatizing of the mulberry 
tree. From Provence Louis XI took it to Touraine : Catherine 
de Medici planted it in Orleanais. Henry IV had some mul- 
berry trees planted in the park at Fontainebleau and in the 
Tuileries where they succeeded admirably. He also en- 
couraged a Treatise on the Gathering of Silk by Olivier de 
Serres. This earliest agricultural writer in France was much 
appreciated by the king, in spite of the opposition of Sully, 
who did not believe in this new fortune for France. Docu- 
mentary evidence is lacking as to the development of the silk 

From 1700 to 1788, wrote Quatrefages, France produced 
annually about 6,000,000 kilogrammes of cocoons. This was 
decreased by one-half under the Republic; wool replaced silk 
perhaps from necessity, perhaps from affectation. 

Napoleon I restored that luxury. The sericicultural industry 
prospered from the Imperial Epoch until the reign of Louis 
Philippe, to such an extent as to reach in one year a total of 
20,000,000 kilogrammes of cocoons, representing 100,000,000 
francs. The name of Tree of Gold given to the mulberry, had 
never been better deserved. 

Suddenly all these riches fell away. A mysterious disease 
was destroying the nurseries. *'Eggs, worms, chrysalides, 
moths, the disease may manifest itself in all the organs," 
wrote Dumas in his report to the Senate. '' "Whence does it 
come? how is it contracted? No one knows. But its inva- 
sion is recognized by little brown or black spots.'* It was 
therefore called ^'corpuscle disease'*; it was also designated 
as ^^gattine^' from the Italian gattino, kitten; the sick worms 
held up their heads and put out their hooked feet like cats about 

1865—1870 117 


to scratch. But of all those names, that of ''pebrine' 
adopted by Quatrefages was the most general. It came from 
the patois word pehre (pepper). The spots on the diseased 
worms were, in fact, rather like pepper grains. 

The first symptoms had been noticed by some in 1845, by 
others in 1847. But in 1849 it was a disaster The South of 
France was invaded. In 1853, seed had to be procured from 
Lombardy. After one successful year the same disappoint- 
ments recurred. Italy was attacked, also Spain and Austria. 
Seed was procured from Greece, Turkey, the Caucasus, but 
the evil was still on the increase; China itself was attacked, 
and, in 1864, it was only in Japan that healthy seed could be 

Every hypothesis was suggested, atmospheric conditions, 
degeneration of the race of silkworms, disease of the mulberry 
tree, etc. — books and treatises abounded, but in vain. 

When Pasteur started for Alais (June 16, 1865), entrusted 
with this scientific mission by the Minister of Agriculture, his 
mind saw but that one point of interrogation, **What caused 
these fatal spots?" On his arrival he sympathetically ques- 
tioned the Alaisians. He received confused and contradictory 
answers, indications of chimerical remedies; some cultivatorC 
poured sulphur or charcoal powder on the worms, some mus- 
tard meal or castor sugar; ashes and soot were used, quinin* 
powders, etc. Some cultivators preferred liquids, and syringed 
the mulberry leaves with wine, rum or absinthe. Fumiga- 
tions of chlorine, of coal tar, were approved by some an(f 
violently objected to by others. Pasteur, more desirous of 
seeking the origin of the e\dl than of making a census of these 
remedies, unceasingly questioned the nursery owners, who in- 
variably answered that it was something like the plague or 
cholera. Some worms languished on the frames in their earliest 
days, others in the second stage only, some passed through the 
third and fourth moultings, climbed the twig and spun their 
cocoon. The chrysalis became a moth, but that diseased moth had 
deformed antenn© and withered legs, the wings seemed singed. 
Eggs (technically called seed) from those moths were inevitably 
unsuccessful the following year. Thus, in the same nursery, 
in the course of the two months that a larva takes to become a 
moth, the pebrine disease was alternately sudden or in- 
sidious: it burst out or disappeared, it hid itself within the 
chrysalis and reappeared in the moth or the eggs of a moth 


which had seemed sound. The discouraged Alaisians thought 
that nothing could overcome pebrine. 

Pasteur did not admit such resignation. But he began by 
one aspect only of the problem. He resolved to submit those 
corpuscles of the silkworm which had been observed since 1849 
to microscopical study. He settled down in a small magna- 
nerie near Alais; two series of worms were being cultivated. 
The first set was full grown; it came from some Japanese seed 
guaranteed as sound, and had produced very fine cocoons. The 
cultivator intended to keep the seed of the moths to compensate 
himself for the failure of the second set, also of Japanese 
origin, but not officially guaranteed. The worms of this second 
series were sickly and did not feed properly. And yet these 
worms, seen through the microscope, only exceptionally pre- 
sented corpuscles; whilst Pasteur was surprised to find some 
in almost every moth or chrysalis from the prosperous nursery. 
Was it then elsewhere than in the worms that the secret of 
the pebrine was to be found? 

Pasteur was interrupted in the midst of his experiments by 
a sudden blow. Nine days after his arrival, a telegram called 
him to Arbois: his father was very ill. He started, full of 
anguish, remembering the sudden death of his mother before 
he had had time to reach her, and that of Jeanne, his eldest 
daughter, who had also died far away from him in the little 
house at Arbois. His sad presentiment oppressed him during 
the w^hole of the long journey, and was fully justified; be 
arrived to find, already in his coffin, the father he so dearly 
loved and whose name he had made an illustrious one. 

In the evening, in the empty room above the tannery, 
Pasteur wrote: ''Dear Marie, dear children, the dear grand' 
father is no more; we have taken him this morning to his last 
resting place, close to little Jeanne's. In the midst of my 
grief I have felt thankful that our little girl had been buried 
there. . . , Until the last moment I hoped I should see him 
again, embrace him for the last time . . . but when I 
arrived at the station I saw some of our cousins all in black, 
coming from Salins; it was only then that I understood that i 
could but accompany him to the grave. 

**He died on the day of your first communion, dear Cecile, 
those two memories will remain in your heart, my poor child. 
I had a presentiment of it when that very morning, at the 
hour when he was struck down, I was asking you to pray for 

1865—1870 119 

the grandfather at Arbois. Your prayers will have been accept- 
able unto God, and perhaps the dear grandfather himself knew 
of them and rejoiced with dear little Jeanne over Cecile^s 

''I have been thinking all day of the marks of affection 1 
have had from my father. For thirty years I have been his 
constant care, I owe everything to him. When I was young 
he kept me from bad company and instilled into me the habit 
of working and the example of the most loyal and best-filled 
life. He was far above his position both in mind and in char- 
acter. . . . You did not know him, dearest Marie, at the 
time when he and my mother were working so hard for the 
children they loved, for me especially, whose books and school- 
ing cost so much. . . . And the touching part of his affec- 
tion for me is that it never was mixed with ambition. You 
remember that he would have been pleased to see me the head- 
master of Arbois College? He foresaw that advancement 
would mean hard work, perhaps detrimental to my health. 
And yet I am sure that some of the success in my scientific 
career must have filled him with joy and pride; his son! his 
name ! the child he had guided and cherished ! My dear 
father, how thankful I am that I could give him some satis- 
faction ! 

** Farewell, dearest Marie, dear children. We shall often 
talk of the dear grandfather. How glad I am that he saw you 
all again a short time ago, and that he lived to know little 
Camille. I long to see you all, but must go back to Alais, for 
my studies would be retarded by a year if I could not spend 
a few days there now. 

**I have some ideas on this disease, which is indeed a scourge 
for all those southern departments. The one arrondissement 
of Alais has lost an income of 120,000,000 francs during the 
last fifteen years. M. Dumas is a million times right; it must 
be seen to, and I am going to continue my experiments. I am 
writing to M. Nisard to have the admission examinations in my 
absence, which can easily be done." 

Nisard wrote to him (June 19) : '*My dear friend, I heard 
of your loss, and I sjTnpathize most cordially with you. . . . 
Take all the time necessary to you. You are away in the 
service of science, probably of humanity. Everything will be 
done according to your precise indications. I foresee no 
difficulty . . . everything is going on well at the Ecole 


In spite of your reserve— which is a part of your talent— I see 
that you are on the track, as M. Biot would have said, and 
that you will have your prey. Your name will stand next to 
that of Olivier de Serres in the annals of sericiculture." 

On his return to Alais Pasteur went back to his observations 
with his scientific ardour and his customary generous eagerness 
to lighten the burden of others. He wrote in the introduction 
to his Studies on Silkworm Disease the following heartfelt 
lines — • 

''A traveller coming back to the Cevennes mountains after 
an absence of fifteen years would be saddened to see the change 
wrought in that countryside within such a short time. For- 
merly he might have seen robust men breaking up the rock 
to build terraces against the side and up to the summit of each 
mountain; then planting mulberry trees on these terraces. 
These men, in spite of their hard work, were then bright and 
happy, for ease and contentment reigned in their homes. 

''Now the mulberry plantations are abandoned, the 'golden 
tree' no longer enriches the country, faces once beaming with 
health and good humour are now sad and drawn. Distress 
and hunger have succeeded to comfort and happiness.'' 

Pasteur thought with sorrow of the sufferings of the Cevenol 
populations. The scientific problem was narrowing itself 
down. Faced by the contradictory facts that one successful 
fiet of cocoons had produced corpuscled moths, while an ap- 
parently unsuccessful set of worms showed neither corpuscles 
nor spots, he had awaited the last period of these worms with 
an impatient curiosity. He saw, amongst those which had 
started spinning, some which as yet showed no spots and no 
corpuscles. But corpuscles were abundant in the chrysalides, 
those especially which were in full maturity, on the eve of be- 
coming moths; and none of the moths were free from them. 
Perhaps the fact that the disease appeared in the chrysalis and 
moth only explained the failures of succeeding series. ''It 
was a mistake," wrote Pasteur (June 26, 1865), ''to look for 
the symptom, the corpuscle, exclusively in the eggs or the 
worms; either might carry in themselves the germ of the 
disease, without presenting distinct and microscopically visible 
corpuscles. The evil developed itself chiefly in the chrvsalides 
and the moths, it was there that it should chiefly be ^sought. 
There should be an infallible means of procuring healthy seed 
by having recourse to moths free from corpuscles.'* 

1865—1870 121 

This idea was like a searchlight flashed into the darkness. 
Pasteur thus formulated his hypothesis: ''Every moth con- 
taining corpuscles must give birth to diseased seed. If a 
moth only has a few corpuscles, its eggs will provide worms 
without any, or which will only develop them towards the end 
of their life. If the moth is much infected, the disease will 
show itself in the earliest stages of the worm, either by 
corpuscles or by other unhealthy symptoms." 

Pasteur studied hundreds of moths under the microscope. 
Nearly all, two or three couples excepted, were corpuscled, but 
that restricted quantity was increased by a precious gift. Two 
people, who had heard Pasteur ventilate his theories, brought 
him five moths born of a local race of silkworms and nurtured 
in the small neighbouring town of Anduze in the Turkish 
fashion, i.e. without any of the usual precautions consisting in 
keeping the worms in nurseries heated at an equal temperature. 
Everything having been tried, this system had also had its 
turn, without any appreciable success. By a fortunate cir- 
cumstance, four out of those five moths were healthy. 

Pasteur looked forward to the study in comparisons that 
the following spring would bring when worms were hatched 
both from the healthy and the diseased seed. In the mean- 
while, only a few of the Alaisians, including M. Pages, the 
Mayor, and M. de Lachadenede, really felt any confidence in 
these results. Most of the other silkworm cultivators were dis- 
posed to criticize everything, without having the patience to 
wait for results. They expressed much regret that the Govern- 
ment should choose a "mere chemist" for those investigations 
instead of some zoologist or silkworm cultivator. Pasteur only 
said, ''Have patience." 

He returned to Paris, where fresh sorrow awaited him: 
Camille, his youngest child, only two years old, was seriously 
ill. He watched over her night after night, spending his days 
at his task in the laboratory, and returning in the evening to 
the bedside of his dying child. During that same period he 
was asked for an article on Lavoisier by J. B. Dumas, who 
had been requested by the Government to publish his works. 

"No one," wrote Dumas to Pasteur — "has read Lavoisier 
with more attention than you have ; no one can judge of him 
better. . . . The chance which caused me to be born before 
you has placed me in communication with surroundings and 
with men in whom I have found the ideas and feelings which 


have guided me in this work. But, had it been yours, 1 
should have allowed no one else to be the first in drawing the 
world's attention to it. It is from this motive, also from a 
certain conformity of tastes and of principles which has long 
made you dear to me, that I now ask you to give up a few 
hours to Lavoisier.'' 

*'My dear and illustrious master," answered Pasteur (July 
18, 1865), *'in the face of your letter and its expressions of 
affectionate confidence, I cannot refuse to submit to you a 
paper which you must promise to throw away if it should not 
be exactly what you want. I must also ask you to grant me 
much time, partly on account of my inexperience, and partly 
on account of the fatigue both mental and bodily imposed on 
me by the illness of our dear child." 

Dumas replied: ''Dear friend and coUeague, I thank you 
for your kind acquiescence in Lavoisier's interests, which 
might well be your own, for no one at this time represents! 
better than you do his spirit and method, — a method in which 
reasoning had more share than anything else. 

**The art of observation and that of experimentation are 
very distinct. In the first case, the fact may either proceed 
from logical reasons or be mere good fortune; it is sufficient to 
have some penetration and the sense of truth in order to profit 
by it. But the art of experimentation leads from the first to 
the last link of the chain, without hesitation and without a 
blank, making successive use of Reason, which suggests an 
alternative, and of Experience, which decides on it, until, 
starting from a faint glimmer, the full blaze of light is reached. 
Lavoisier made this art into a method, and you possess it to a 
degree which always gives me a pleasure for which I am grate 
ful to you. 

**Take your time. Lavoisier has waited seventy years! It 
is a century since his first results were produced! What are 
weeks and months? 

*'I feel for you with all my heart! I know how heartrend- 
ing are those moments by the deathbed of a suffering child. I 
hope and trust this great sorrow will be spared you, as indeed 
you deserve that it should be." 

The promise made by Dumas to give to France an edition of 
Lavoisier's works dated very far back. It was in May, 1836, 
in one of his eloquent lectures at the College de France, that 
Dumas had declared his intention of raising a scientific monu* 

1865—1870 123 

ment to the memory of this, perhaps the greatest of all French 
scientists. He had hoped that a Bill would be passed by the 
Government of Louis Philippe decreeing that this edition of 
Lavoisier's works would be produced at the expense of the 
State. But the usual obstacles and formalities came in the 
way. Governments succeeded each other, and it was only in 
1861 that Dumas obtained the decree he wished for and that 
the book appeared. 

Certainly Pasteur knew and admired as much as any one the 
discoveries of Lavoisier. But, in the presence of the series of 
labours accomplished, in spite of many other burdens, during 
that life cut off in its prime by the Revolutionary Tribunal 
(1792), labours collated for the first time by Dumas, Pasteur 
was filled with a new and vivid emotion. His logic in reason- 
ing and his patience in observing nature had in no wise 
diminished the impetuous generosity of his feelings ; a beautiful 
book, a great discovery, a brilliant exploit or a humble act of 
kindness would move him to tears. Concerning such a man as 
Lavoisier, Pasteur's curiosity became a sort of worship. He 
would have had the history of such a life spread everywhere. 
*' Though one discovery always surpasses another, and though 
the chemical and physical knowledge accumulated since his 
time has gone beyond all Lavoisier's dreams," wrote Pasteur, 
*'his work, like that of Newton end a few other rare spirits, will 
remain ever young. Certain details will age, as do the fashions 
of another time, but the foundation, the method, constitute 
one of those great aspects of the human mind, the majesty 
of which is only increased by years. ..." 

Pasteur's article appeared in the Moniteur and was much 
praised by the celebrated critic Sainte Beuve, whose literary 
lectures were often attended by Pasteur, between 1857 and 
1861. The chronological order that we are following in this 
history of Pasteur's life allows us to follow the ideas and feel- 
ings with which he lived his life of hard daily work combined 
with daily devotion to others. Joys and sorrows can be 
chronicled, thanks to the confidences of those who loved him. 
His fame is indeed part of the future, but the tenderness which 
he inspired revives the memories of the past. 

In September, 1865, little Camille died. Pasteur took the 
tiny coffin to Arbois and went back to his work. A letter 
written in November alludes to the depth of his grief. 

It was a propos of a candidature to the Academic des 


Sciences, Sainte Beuve was asked to help that of a young 
friend of his, Charles Robin. Robin occupied a professor's 
chair specially created for him at the Faculte de Medecine; he 
had made a deep microscopical study of the tissues of living 
bodies, of cellular life, of all which constitutes histology. He 
was convinced that outside his own studies, numerous ques- 
tions would fall more and more into the domain of experimenta- 
tion, and he believed that the faith in spiritual things could 
not "stand the struggle against the spirit of the times, wholly 
turned to positive things." He did not, like Pasteur, under- 
stand the clear distinction between the scientist on the one 
hand and the man of sentiment on the other, each absolutely 
independent. Neither did he imitate the reserve of Claude 
Bernard who did not allow himself to be pressed by any 
urgent questioner into enrolment with either the believers or 
the unbelievers, but answered: **When I am in my labora- 
tory, I begin by shutting the door on materialism and on 
spiritualism; I observe facts alone, I seek but the scientific 
conditions under which life manifests itself.'* Robin was a 
disciple of Auguste Comte, and proclaimed himself a Positivist, 
a word which for superficial people was the equivsdent of 
materialist. The same efforts which had succeeded in keeping 
Littre out of the Academic Francaise in 1863 were now 
attempted in order to keep Robin out of the Academic des 
Sciences in 1865. 

Sainte Beuve, whilst studying medicine, had been a Posi- 
tivist; his quick and impressionable nature had then turned to 
a mysticism which had inspired him to pen some fine verses. 
He had now returned to his former philosophy, but kept an 
open mind, however, criticism being for him not the art of 
dictating, but of understanding, and he was absolutely averse 
to irrelevant considerations when a candidature was in question. 

The best means with Pasteur, who was no diplomat, was to 
go straight to the point. Sainte Beuve therefore wrote to him : 
''Dear Sir, will you allow me to be indiscreet enough to solicit 
your influence in favour of M. Robin, whose work I know you 
appreciate ? 

''M. Robin does not perhaps belong to the same philo- 
sophical school as you do; but it seems to me — from an out- 
sider's point of view — that he belongs to the same scientific 
school. If he should differ essentially — ^whether in meta- 
physics or otherwise — ^would it not be worthy of a great scientist 

1865—1870 125 

to take none but positive work into account? Nothing more, 
nothing less. 

"Forgive me; I have much resented the injustice towards 
you of certain newspapers, and I have sometimes asked myself 
if there were not some simple means of showing up all that 
nonsense, and of disproving those absurd and ill-intentioned 
statements. If M. Robin deserves to be of the Academic why 
should he not attain to it through you? . . . 

*'My sense of gratitude towards you for those four years 
during which you have done me the honour of including such 
a man as you are in my audience, also a feeling of friendship, 
are carrying me too far. I intended to mention this to you the 
other day at the Princess's; she had wished me to do so, but 
I feel bolder with a pen. ..." 

The Princess in question was Princess Mathilde. Her salon, 
a rendezvous of men of letters, men of science and artists, was 
a sort of second Academy which consoled Theophile Gautier 
for not belonging to the other. Sainte Beuve prided himself 
on being, so to speak, honorary secretary to this accomplished 
and charming hostess. 

Pasteur answered by return of post. *^Sir and illustrious 
colleague, I feel strongly inclined towards M. Robin, who 
would represent a new scientific element at the Academy — the 
microscope applied to the study of the human organism. I do 
not trouble about his philosophical school save for the harm it 
may do to his work. ... I confess frankly, however, that 
I am not competent on the question of our philosophical 
schools. Of M. Comte I have only read a few absurd passages; 
of M. Littre I only know the beautiful pages you were in- 
spired to write by his rare knowledge and some of his domestic 
virtues. My philosophy is of the heart and not of the mind, 
and I give myself up^ for instance, to those feelings about 
eternity which come naturally at the bedside of a cherished 
child drawing its last breath. At those supreme moments, 
there is something in the depths of our souls which tells us 
that the world mav be more than a mere combination of 
phenomena proper to a mechanical equilibrium brought out 
of the chaos of the elements simply through the gradual action 
of the forces of matter. I admire them all, our philosophers! 
We have experiments to straighten and modify our ideas, and 
we constantly find that nature is other than we had imagined. 
They, who are always guessing, how can they know! ..." 


Sainte Beuve was probably not astonished at Pasteur's some- 
what hasty epithet applied to Auguste Comte, whom he had 
himself defined as **an obscure, abstruse, often diseased brain.*' 
After Eobin's election he wrote to his ''dear and learned col- 
league ' ' — 

'*I have not allowed myself to thank you for the letter, so 
beautiful, if I may say so, so deep and so exalted in thought, 
which you did me the honour of writing in answer to mine. 
Nothing now forbids me to tell you how deeply I am struck 
with your way of thinking and with your action in this 
scientific matter." 

That ^'something in the depths of our souls" of which 
Pasteur spoke in his letter to Sainte Beuve, was often per- 
ceived in his conversation; absorbed as he was in his 
daily task, he yet carried in himself a constant aspiration 
towards the Ideal, a deep conviction of the reality of the 
Infinite and a trustful acquiescence in the Mystery of the 

During the last term of the year 1865, he turned from his 
work for a time in order to study cholera. Coming from Egypt, 
the scourge had lighted on Marseilles, then on Paris, where it 
made in October more than two hundred victims per day; it 
was feared that the days of 1832 would be repeated, when the 
deaths reached twenty-three per 1,000. Claude Bernard, 
Pasteur, and Sainte Claire Deville went into the attics of the 
Lariboisiere hospital, above a cholera ward. 

**We had opened," said Pasteur, ''one of the ventilators 
communicating with the ward; we had adapted to the opening 
a glass tube surrounded by a refrigerating mixture, and we 
drew the air of the ward into our tube, so as to condense 
into it as many as we could of the products of the air in the 

Claude Bernard and Pasteur afterwards tried blood taken 
from patients, and many other things; they were associated in 
thovse experiments, which gave no result. Henri Sainte Claire 
Deville once said to Pasteur, ''Studies of that sort require 
much courage." "What about duty?" said Pasteur simply, 
in a tone, said Deville afterwards, worth many sermons. The 
cholera did not last long ; by the end of the autumn all danger 
had disappeared. 

Napoleon the Third loved science, and found in it a sense 
of assured stability which politics did not offer him. He de- 

1865—1870 127 

sired Pasteur to come and spend a week at the Palace of 

The very first evening a grand reception took place. The 
diplomatic world was represented by M. de Budberg, ambas- 
sador of Russia, and the Prussian ambassador, M. de Goltz. 
Among the guests were: Dr. Longet, celebrated for his 
researches and for his Treatise on Physiology, a most original 
physician, whose one desire was to avoid patients and so have 
more time for pure science; Jules Sandeau, the tender and 
delicate novelist, with his somewhat heavy aspect of a captain 
in the Garde Nationale; Paul Baudry, the painter, then in the 
flower of his youth and radiant success; Paul Dubois, the 
conscientious artist of the Chanteur Florentin exhibited that 
very year; the architect, Viollet le Due, an habitue of the 
palace. The Emperor drew Pasteur aside towards the fire- 
place, and the scientist soon found himself instructing his 
Sovereign, talking about ferments and molecular dissym- 

Pasteur was congratulated by the courtiers on the favour shown 
by this immediate confidential talk, and the Empress sent him 
word that she wished him to talk with her also. Pasteur 
remembered this conversation, an animated one, a little discon- 
nected, chiefly about animalculae, infusories and ferments. 
When the guests returned to the immense corridor into which 
the rooms opened, each w^ith the name of the guests on the 
door, Pasteur wrote to Paris for his microscope and for some 
samples of diseased wines. 

The next morning a stag hunt was organized ; riders in hand- 
some costumes, open carriages drawn by six horses and con- 
taining guests, entered the forest; a stag was soon brought to 
bay by the hounds. In the evening, after dinner, there was 
a torchlight procession in the great courtyard. Amid a burst 
of trumpets, the footmen in state livery, standing in a circle, 
held aloft the flaming torches. In the centre, a huntsman 
held part of the carcase of the stag and waved it to and fro 
before the greedy eyes of the hounds, who, eager to hurl 
themselves upon it, and now restrained by a word, then let 
loose, and again called back all trembling at their dis- 
comfiture, vrere at length permitted to rush upon and devour 
their prey. 

The next day offered another item on the programme, a 
visit to the castle of Pierrefonds, marvellously restored by 


Viollet le Due at tlie expense of the Imperial purse. Pasteur, 
who, like the philosopher, might have said, ''I am never bored 
but when I am being entertained," made his arrangements 
so that the day should not be entirely wasted. He made an 
appointment for his return with the head butler, hoping to 
find a few diseased wines in the Imperial cellar. That depart- 
ment, however, was so well administered that he was only 
able to find seven or eight suspicious-looking bottles. The tall 
flunkeys, who scarcely realized the scientific interest offered 
by a basketful of wine bottles, watched Pasteur more or less 
ironically as he returned to his room, where he had the pleasure 
of finding his microscope and case of instruments sent from the 
Rue d'Ulm. He remained upstairs, absorbed as he would 
have been in his laboratory, in the contemplation of a drop 
of bitter wine revealing the tiny mycoderma which caused the 

In the meanwhile some of the other guests were gathered 
in the smoking room, smilingly awaiting the Empress's five 
o'clock tea, whilst others were busy with the preparations 
for the performance of Racine's Plaideurs, which Provost, 
Regnier, Got, Delaunay, Coquelin, and Mademoiselle 
-Jouassain were going to act that very evening in the theatre 
of the palace. 

On the Sunday, at 4 p.m., he was received privately by their 
Majesties, for their instruction and edification. He wrote 
in a letter to a friend: "I went to the Emperor with my 
microscope, my wine samples, and all my paraphernalia. 
When I was announced, the Emperor came up to meet me 
and asked me to come in. M. Conti, who was writing at a 
table, rose to leave the room, but was invited to stay. Then 
he fetched the Empress, and I began to show their Majestic* 
various objects under the microscope and to explain them; 
it lasted a whole hour." 

The Empress had been much interested, and wished that 
her five o'clock friends — who were waiting in the room where 
tea was served — should also acquire some notions of these 
studies. She merrily took up the microscope, laughing at her 
new occupation of laboratorj- attendant, and arrived thus 
laden in the drawing-room, much to the surprise of her privi- 
leged guests. Pasteur came in behind her, and gave a short 
and simple account of a few general ideas and precise 

1865—1870 129 

In the same way, the preceding week, Le Verrier^ had 
spoken of his planet, and Dr. Longet had given a lecture on 
the circulation of the blood. That butterfly world of the 
Court, taking a momentary interest in scientific things, did 
not foresee that the smallest discovery made in the poor 
laboratory of the Rue d'Ulm would leave a more lasting im- 
pression than the fetes of the Tuileries of Fontainebleau and 
of Compiegne. 

In the course of their private interview, Napoleon and 
Eugenie manifested some surprise that Pasteur should not 
endeavour to turn his discoveries and their applications to a 
source of legitimate profit. ''In France," he replied, ''scien- 
tists would consider that they lowered themselves by doing so.*' 

He was convinced that a man of pure science would com- 
plicate his life, the order of his thoughts, and risk paralysing 
his inventive faculties, if he were to make money by his 
discoveries. For instance, if he had followed up the industrial 
results of his studies on vinegar, his time would have been 
too much and too regularly occupied, and he would not have 
been free for new researches. 

**My mind is free," he said. *'I am as full of ardour for 
the new question of silkworm disease as I was in 1863, when 
I took up the wine question." 

"What he most wished was to be able to watch the growth 
of the silkworms from the very first day, and to pursue without 
interruption this serious study in which the future of France 
was interested. That, and the desire to have one day a 
laboratory adequate to the magnitude of his works were his 
only ambitions. On his return to Paris he obtained leave 
to go back to Alais. 

'*My dear Raulin," wrote Pasteur to his former pupil in 
January, 1866. "I am again entrusted by the Minister of 
Agriculture with a mission for the study of silkworm disease, 
which will last at least five months, from February 1 to the 
end of June. Would you care to join me?" 

1 Le Verrier, a celebrated astronomer, at that time Director of the 
Paris Observatory. His calculations led him to surmise the existence 
of the planet Xeptune, which was discovered accordingly. Adam, an 
English astronomer, attained the same result, by the same means, at the 
same time, each of the two 8«ientists being in absolute ignorance of the 
^ork of the other Le Verrier was the first to publish his discovery. 


Eaulin excused himself; he was then preparing, with his 
accustomed slow conscientiousness, his doctor's thesis, 9 work 
afterwards considered by competent judges to be a master* 

*'I must console myself,'* wrote Pasteur, expressing his 
regrets, *'by thinking that you will complete your excellent 
thesis. ' ' 

One of Raulin's fellow students at the Ecole Normale, 
M. Gernez, was now a professor at the College Louis le 
Grand. His mind was eminently congenial to Pasteur's^ 
Duruy, then Minister of Public Instruction, was ever anxious 
to smooth down all difficulties in the path of science: he gave 
a long leave of absence to M. Gernez, in order that he might 
take Raulin's place. Another young Normalien, Maillot, pre- 
pared to join the scientific party, much to his delight. The 
three men left Paris at the beginning of February. They 
began by spending a few days in an hotel at Alais, trying to 
find a suitable house where they would set up their temporary 
laboratory. After a week or two in a house within the town, 
too far, to be convenient, from the restaurant where they 
had their meals. Maillot discovered a lonely house at the foot 
of the Mount of the Hermitage, a mountain once covered with 
flourishing mulberry trees, but now abandoned, and growing 
but a few olive trees. 

This house, at Pont Gisquet, not quite a mile from Alais, 
was large enough to hold Pasteur, his family and his pupils; a 
laboratory was soon arranged in an empty orangery. 

'*Then began a period of intense work,'* writes M. Gernez. 
''Pasteur undertook a great number of trials, which he him- 
self followed in their minutest details; he only required our 
help over similar operations by which he tested his own. The 
result was that above the fatigues of the day, easily borne by 
us strong young men, he had to bear the additional burden 
of special researches, importunate visitors, and an equally 
importunate correspondence, chiefly dealing out criticisms 


Madame Pasteur, who had been detained in Paris for her 
children's education, set out for Alais with her two daughters. 
Her mother being then on a visit to the rector of the Chambery 
Academy, M. Zevort, she arranged to spend a day or two in 
that town. But hardly had she arrived when her daughter 
Cecile, then twelve years old, became ill with typhoid fever. 

1865—1870 131 

Madame Pasteur had the courage not to ask her husband to 
leave his work and come to her; but her letters alarmed him, 
and the anxious father gave up his studies for a few days and 
arrived at Chambery. The danger at that time seemed averted, 
and he only remained three days at Chambery. Cecile, ap- 
parently convalescent, had recovered her smile, that sweet, in- 
definable smile which gave so much charm to her serious, 
almost melancholy face. She smiled thus for the last time at 
her little sister Marie-Louise, about the middle of May, lying 
on a s< >f a by a sunny window. 

On Mar 21, her doctor. Dr. Flesschutt, wrote to Pasteur: 
*'If the iite:r*st I take in the child were not sufficient to 
stimulate my efforts, the mother's courage would keep up my 
hopes and double my ardent desire for a happy issue." Cecile 
died on i\Iay 23 after a sudden relapse. Pasteur only arrived 
at Chambery in time to take to Arbois the remains of the little 
girl, which were buried near those of his mother, of his two 
other daughters, Jeanne and Camille, and of his father, Joseph 
Pasteur. The little cemetery indeed represented a cup of 
sorrows for Pasteur. 

**Your father has returned from his sad journey tc 
Arbois," wrote Madame Pasteur from Chambery to her son 
who was at school in Paris. **I did think of going back to 
you, but I could not leave your poor father to go back to Alais 
alone after this great sorrow." Accompanied by her who 
was his greatest comfort, and who gave him some of her own 
courage, Pasteur came back to the Pont Gisquet and returned 
to his work. M. Duclaux in his turn joined the hard-working 
little party. 

At the beginning of June, Duruy, with the solicitude of 
a Minister who found time to be also a friend, wrote affection- 
ately to Pasteur — 

"You are leaving me quite in the dark, yet you know the 
interest I take in your work. Where are you? and what are 
you doing? Finding out something I feel certain. ..." 

Pasteur answered, ** Monsieur le Ministre, I hasten to thank 
you for your kind reminder. My studies have been associated 
with sorrow; perhaps your charming little daughter, who 
used to play sometimes at M. Le Verrier's, will remember 
Cecile Pasteur among other little girls of her age that she 
used to meet at the Observatoire. My dear child was coming 
with her mother to spend the Easter holidays with me at Alais, 


when, during a few days' stay at Chambery, she was seized 
with an attack of typhoid fever, to which she succumbed 
after two months of painful suffering. I was only able to be 
with her for a few days, being kept here by my work, and 
full of deceiiiing hopes for a happy issue from that terrible 

*'I am now wholly wrapped up in my studies, which alone 
take my thoughts from my deep sorrow. 

** Thanks to the facilities which you have put in my way, 
I have been able to collect a quantity of experimental observa- 
tions, and I think I understand on many points this disease 
which has been ruining the South for fifteen or twenty years. 
I shall be able on my return to propose to the Commission of 
Sericiculture a practical means of fighting the evil and sup- 
pressing it in the course of a few years. 

**I am arriving at this result that there is no silkworm 
disease. There is but an exaggeration of a state of things 
which has always existed, and it is not difficult, in my view, to 
return to the former situation, even to improve on it. The 
evil was sought for in the worm and even in the seed ; that was 
something, but mj observations prove that it develops chiefly 
in the chrysalis, especially in the mature chrysalis, at the 
moment of the moth's formation, oi?. the eve of the function 
of reproduction. The microscope then detects its presence 
with certitude, even when the seed and the worm seem very 
healthy. The practical result is this : you have a nursery full ; it 
has been successful or it has not ; you wish to know whether to 
smother the cocoons or whether to keep them for reproduction. 
Nothing is simpler. You hasten the development of about 100 
moths through an elevation of temperature, and you examine 
these moths through the microscope, which will tell you what 
to do. 

**The sickly character is then so easy to detect that a woman 
or a child can do it. If the cultivator should be a peasant, 
without the material conditions required for this study, he can 
do this: instead of throwing away the moths after they have 
laid their eggs, he can bottle a good many of them in brandy 
and send them to a testing office or to some experienced person 
who will determine the value of the seed for the foLowing 

The Japanese Government sent some cases of seed supposed 
to be healthy to Napoleon III, who distributed them in the 

1865—1870 133 

silkworm growing departments. Pasteur, in the meanwhile, 
was stating the results he had arrived at, and they were being 
much criticized. In order to avoid the pebrine, which was 
indeed the disease caused by the corpuscles so clearly visible 
through the microscope, he averred that no seed should be 
used that came from infected moths. In order to demonstrate 
the infectious character of the pebrine he would give to some 
worms meals of leaves previously contaminated by means of a 
brush dipped in water containing corpuscles. The worms 
absorbed the food, and the disease immediately appeared and 
could be found in the chrysalides and moths from those worms. 

^'I hope I am in the right road — close to the goal, perhaps, 
but I have not yet reached it," wrote Pasteur to his faithful 
Chappuis; *'and as long as the final proof is not acquired com- 
plications and errors are to be feared. Next year, the growth 
of the numerous eggs I have prepared will obviate my scruples, 
and I shall be sure of the value of the preventive means I have 
indicated. It is tiresome to have to wait a j^ear before testing 
observations already made; but I have every hope of success." 

"While awaiting the renewal of the silkworm season, he was 
busy editing his book on wine, full of joy at contributing to 
the national riches through practical application of his observa- 
tions. It was, in fact, sufficient to heat the wines by the 
simple process already at that time known in Austria as 
pasteurisation, to free them from all germs of disease and make 
them suitable for keeping and for exportation. He did not 
accord much attention to the talk of old gourmets who affirmed 
that wines thus * 'mummified" could not mellow with age, 
being convinced on the contrary that the most delicate wines 
could only be improved by heating. ''The ageing of wines," 
he said, "is due, not to fermentation, but to a slow oxidation 
which is favoured by heat." 

He alluded in his book to the interest taken by Napoleon III 
In those researches which might be worth millions to Francje. 
He also related how the Imperial solicitude had been awakened, 
and acknowledged gratitude for this to General Fave, one of 
the Emperor \s aides de camp. 

The General, on reading the proofs, declared that his name 
must disappear. Pasteur regretfully gave in to his scruples, 
but wrote the following words on the copy presented to General 
Pave: "General, this book contains a serious omission — that 
^f 3'our name : it would be an unpardonable one had it not beer* 


made at your own request, according to your custom of keep- 
ing your good works secret. Without you, these studies on 
wine would not exist; you have helped and encouraged them. 
Leave me at least the satisfaction of writing that name on the 
first page of this copy, of which I beg you to accept the 
homage, while renewing the expression of my devoted grati- 
tude. '* 

Another incident gives us an instance of Pasteur's kindness 
of heart. In the year 1866 Claude Bernard suffered from a 
gastric disease so serious that his doctors, Rayer and Davaine, 
had to admit their impotence. Bernard was obliged to leave 
his laboratory and retire to his little house at St. Julien (near 
Villefranche), his birthplace. But the charm of his recol- 
lections of childhood was embittered by present sadness. His 
mind full of projects, his life threatened in its prime, he had 
the courage, a difficult thing to unselfish people, of resolutely 
taking care of himself. But preoccupied solely with his own 
diet, his own body now a subject for experiments, he became 
a prey to a deep melancholia. Pasteur, knowing to what extent 
moral influences react on the physique, had the idea of writing 
a review of his friend's works, and published it in the Moniteur 
Universel of November 7, 1866, under the following title: 
Claude Bernard: the Importance of his Works, Teaching and 
Method. He began thus: *' Circumstances have recently 
caused me to re-peruse the principal treatises which have 
founded the reputation of our great physiologist, Claude 

"I have derived from them so great a satisfaction, and my 
admiration for his talent has been confirmed and increased to 
such an extent that I cannot resist the somewhat rash desire 
of communicating my impressions. ..." 

Amongst Claude Bernard's discoveries, Pasteur chose that 
which seemed to him most instructive, and which Claude 
Bernard himself appreciated most: ''When M. Bernard be- 
came in 1854 a candidate for the Academic des Sciences, his 
discovery of the glycogenic functions of the liver was neither 
the first nor the last among those which had already placed 
him so high in the estimation of men of science; yet it was 
by that one that he headed his list of the claims which could 
recommend him to the suffrages of the illustrious body. That 
preference on the part of the master decides me in mine.'* 

Claude Bernard \iad begun by meditating deeply on the 

1865—1870 136 

disease known as diabetes and which is characterized, as every- 
body knows, by a superabundance of sugar in the whole of 
the organism, the urine often being laden with it. But how is 
it, wondered Claude Bernard, that the quantity of sugar ex- 
pelled by a diabetic patient can so far surpass that with which 
he is provided by the starchy or sugary substances which form 
part of his food ? How is it that the presence of sugary matter 
in the blood and its expulsion through urine are never com- 
pletely arrested, even when all sugary or starchy alimentation 
is suppressed? Are there in the human organism sugar-pro- 
ducing phenomena unknown to chemists and physiologists? 
All the notions of science were contrary to that mode of think- 
ing; it was affirmed that the vegetable kingdom only could 
produce sugar, and it seemed an insane hypothesis to suppose 
that the animal organism could fabricate any. Claude Bernard 
dwelt upon it however, his principle in experimentation being 
this: **When you meet with a fact opposed to a prevailing 
theory, you should adhere to the fact and abandon the theory, 
even when the latter is supported by great authorities and 
generally adopted.'^ 

This is what he imagined, summed up in a few words by 
Pasteur — ■ 

*'Meat is an aliment which cannot develop sugar by the 
digestive process known to us. Now M. Bernard having fed 
some carnivorous animals during a certain time exclusively 
with meat, he assured himself, with his precise knowledge of 
the most perfect means of investigation offered him by 
chemistry, that the blood which enters the liver by the portal 
vein and pours into it the nutritive substances prepared and 
rendered soluble by digestion is absolutely devoid of sugar; 
whilst the blood which issues from the liver by the hepatic 
veins is always abundantly provided with it. . , . M. Claude 
Bernard has also thrown full light on the close connection 
which exists between the secretion of sugar in the liver and the 
influence of the nervous system. He has demonstrated, with 
a rare sagacity, that by acting on some determined portion of 
that system it was possible to suppress or exaggerate at will 
the production of sugar. He has done more still; he has dis- 
covered within the liver the existence of an absolutely new 
substance which is the natural source whence this organ draws 
the sugar that it produces/' 

Pasteur, starting from this discovery of Claude Bernard's, 


spoke of the growing close connection between medicine andi 
physiology. Then, with his constant anxiety to incite students 
to enthusiasm, he recommended them to read the lectures de- 
livered by Bernard at the College de France. Speaking of the 
Introduction to the Study of Experimental MediciTie, Pasteur 
wrote: *'A long commentary would be necessary to present 
this splendid work to the reader; it is a monument raised to 
honour the method which has constituted Physical and 
Chemical Science since Galileo and Newton, and which M. 
Bernard is trying to introduce into physiology and pathology. 
Nothing so complete, so profound, so luminous has ever been 
written on the true principles of the difficult art of experimenta- 
tion. . « . This book will exert an immense influence on medical 
science, its teaching, its progress, its language even.'* Pasteur 
took pleasure in adding to his own tribute praise from other 
sources. He quoted, for instance, J. B. Dumas* answer to 
Duruy, who asked him, *'What do you think of this great 
physiologist?" **He is not a great physiologist; he is Physi- 
ology itself." **I have spoken of the man of science," con- 
tinued Pasteur. **I might have spoken of the man in every- 
day life, the colleague who has inspired so many with a solid 
friendship, for I should seek in vain for a weak point in M. 
Bernard; it is not to be found. His personal distinction, the 
noble beauty of his physiognomy, his gentle kindliness attract 
at first sight; he has no pedantry, none of a scientist's usual 
faults, but an antique simplicity, a perfectly natural and un- 
affected manner, while his conversation is deep and full of ideas 
, • ." Pasteur, after informing the public that the gravex 
symptoms of Bernard's disease had now disappeared, ended 
thus: **May the publicity now given to these thoughts and 
feelings cheer the illustrious patient in his enforced idleness, 
and assure him of the joy with which his return will be wel* 
corned by his friends and colleagues." 

The very day after this article reached him (November 19, 
1860) Bernard wrote to Pasteur: **My dear friend, — I re- 
ceived yesterday the Moniteur containing the superb article 
you have written about me. Your great praise indeed makes 
me proud, though I feel I am yet very far from the goal I 
would reach. If I return to health, as I now hope I may do, I 
think I shall find it possible to pursue my work in a more 
methodical order and with more complete means of demonstra- 
tion, better indicating the general idea towards which my 

1865—1870 137 

various efforts converge. In the meanwhile it is a ver^; 
precious encouragement to me to be approved and praised by a 
man such as you. Your works have given you a great name, 
and have placed you in the first rank among experimentalists 
of our time. The admiration which you profess for me is in- 
deed reciprocated; and we must have been born to understand 
each other, for true science inspires us both with the same 
passion and the same sentiments. 

*' Forgive me for not having answered your first letter; but 
I was really not equal to writing the notice you wanted. I 
have deeply felt for you in your family sorrow; I have been 
through the same trial, and I can well understand the suffer- 
ings of a tender and delicate soul such as yours." 

Henri Sainte Claire Deville, who was as warm-hearted as 
he was witty, had, on his side, the ingenious idea of editing 
an address of collective wishes for Claude Bernard, who 
answered: *'My dear friend, — ^You are evidently as clever in 
inventing friendly surprises as in making great scientific dis- 
coveries. It was indeed a most charming idea, and one for 
which I am very grateful to you — that of sending me a colleC' 
live letter from my friends. I shall carefully preserve that 
letter: first, because the feelings it expresses are very dear to 
me; and also because it is a collection of illustrious autographs 
which should go down to posterity. I beg you will transmit 
my thanks to our friends and colleagues, E. Renan, A. Maury, 
F. Kavaisson and Bellaguet. Tell them how much I am 
touched by their kind wishes and congratulations on my re- 
covery. It is, alas, not yet a cure, but I hope I am on a fair 
way to it. 

*'I have received the article Pasteur has written about me in 
the Moniteur; that article paralysed the vasomotor nerves of 
my sympathetic system, and caused me to blush to the roots of 
my hair. I was so amazed that I don't know what I wrote to 
Pasteur; but I did not dare say to him that he had wrongly 
exaggerated my merits. I know he believes all that he writes, 
and I am happy and proud of his opinion, because it is that of a 
scientist and experimentalist of the ver^^ first rank. Neverthe- 
less, I cannot help thinking that he has seen me through 
the prism of his kindly heart, and that I do not deserve such 
excessive praise. I am more than thankful for all the marks 
of esteem and friendship which are showered upon me. They 
make me cling closer to life, and feel that I should be very 


foolish not to take care of myself and continue to live amongst 
those who love me, and who deserve my love for all the hap- 
piness they give me. I intend to return to Paris some time 
this month, and, in spite of your kind advice, I should like to 
take up my College de France classes again this winter. 1 hope 
to be allowed not to begin before January. But we shall talk 
of all this in Paris. I remain your devoted and affectionate 

To end this academic episode, we will quote from Joseph 
Bertrand's letter of thanks to Pasteur, who had sent him the 
article: **. » . The public will learn, among other things^ 
that the eminent members of the Academy admire and love 
each other sometimes with no jealousy. This was rare in the 
last century, and, if all followed your example, we should havf 
over our predecessors one superiority worth many another.*' 

Thus Pasteur showed himself a man of sentiment as well 
as a man of science; the circle of his affections was enlarg- 
ing, as was the scope of his researches, but without any detri- 
ment to the happy family life of his own intimate circle. That 
little group of his family and close friends identified itself 
absolutely with his work, his ideas and his hopes, each mem- 
ber of it willingly subordinating his or her private interests to 
the success of his investigations. He was at that time violently 
attacked by his old adversaries as well as his new contradictors. 
Pouchet announced everywhere that the question of spon- 
taneous generation was being taken up again in England, in 
Germany, in Italy and in America. Joly, Pouchet 's inseparable 
friend, w^as about to make some personal studies and to write 
some general considerations on the new silkworm campaign. 
Pasteur, who had confidently said, **The year 1867 must be 
the last to bear the complaints of silkworm cultivators T ' went 
back to Alais in January, 1867. But, before leaving Paris, 
Pasteur wrote out for himself a list of various improvements 
and reforms which he desired to effect in the administration of 
ihe Ecole Normale, showing that his interest in the great 
school had by no means abated, in spite of his necessary 
absence. He brought with him his wife and daughter, and 
Messrs. Gernez and Maillot; M. Duclaux was to come later. 
The worms hatched from the eggs of healthy moths and those 
from diseased ones were growing more interesting every day; 
they were in every instance exactly what Pasteur had pro- 
phesied they would be- But besides studying his own silk- 

1865—1870 139 

(vorms, he liked to see what was going on in neighbouring 
magnaneries. A neighbour in the Pont Gisquet, a cultivator 
of the name of Cardinal, had raised with great success a brood 
originating from the famous Japanese seed. He was disap- 
pointed, however, in the eggs produced by the moths, and 
Pasteur's microscope revealed the fact that those moths wera 
all corpuscled, in spite of their healthy origin. Pasteur did 
not suspect that origin, for the worms had shown health and 
vigour through all their stages of growth, and seemed to have 
issued from healthy parents. But Cardinal had raised another 
brood, the produce of unsound seed, immediately above these 
healthy worms. The excreta from this second brood could 
fall on to the frames of those below them, and the healthy 
worms had become contaminated. Pasteur demonstrated that 
the pebrine contagion might take place in one or two different 
ways: either from direct contact between the worms on the 
^ame frame, or by the soiling of the food from the very in- 
fectious excreta. The remedy for the pebrine seemed now 
Sound. "The corpuscle disease,'* said Pasteur, "is as easily 
avoided as it is easily contracted." But when he thought he 
had reached his goal a sudden difficulty rose in his way. Out 
of sixteen broods of worms which he had raised, and which 
|)resented an excellent appearance, the sixteenth perished 
almost entirely immediately after the first moulting. "In a 
brood of a hundred worms," wrote Pasteur, "I picked up fifteen 
or twenty dead ones every day, black and rotting with ex'tra- 
ordinary rapidity. . . . They were soft and flaccid like an 
empty bladder. I looked in vain for corpuscles; there was not 
a trace of them." 

Pasteur was temporarily troubled and discouraged. But ha 
consulted the writings of former students of silkworm diseases, 
and, when he discovered vibriones in those dead worms, he 
did not doubt that he had under his eyes a well characterized 
example of the flachery disease — a disease independent and 
distinct from the pebrine. He wrote to Duruy, and acquainted 
him with the results he had obtained and the obstacles he 
encountered. Duruy wrote back on April 9, 1867 — 

' ' Thank you for your letter and the good news it contains. 

"Not very far from you, at Avignon, a statue has been 
erected to the Persian who imported into France the culti- 
vation of madder; what then will not be done for the rescuer 
of two of our greatest industries ! Do not forget to inform mO 


"When you have mastered the one or two lame facts which stiH 
land in the way. As a citizen, as head of the Universite, 
And, if I may say so, as your friend, I wish I could follcw 
your experiments day by day. 

*'You know that I should like to found a special college at 
Alais. Please watch for any useful information on that subject. 
"We will talk about it on your return. 

**I am obliged to M. Gernez for his assiduous and intelligent 
collaboration with you.'* 

This letter from the great Minister is all the more interest- 
ing that it is dated from the eve of the day when the law on 
the reorganization of primary teaching w^as promulgated. 

The introduction into the curriculum of historical and 
geographical notions; the inauguration of 10,000 schools and 
30,000 adult classes; the transformation of certain flagging 
classical colleges into technical training schools; a constant 
struggle to include the teaching of girls in Universite organiza- 
tion ; reforms and improvements in general teaching ; the build- 
ing of laboratories, etc., etc. — into the accomplishment of all 
these projects Duruy carried his bold and methodical activity. 
No one was more suited than he to the planning out of a 
complete system of national education. He and Pasteur were 
indeed fitted to understand each other, for each had in the same 
degree those three forms of patriotism: love for the land, 
memories for the past, and hero worship. 

In May, 1867, Pasteur received at Alais the news that a 
grand prize medal of the 1867 exhibition was conferred upon 
him for his works on wines. He hastened to write to Dumas — • 

**My dear master, . . . Nothing has surprised me more — • 
or so agreeably, — than the news of this Exhibition prize medal, 
which I was far from expecting. It is a new proof of your 
kindness, for I feel sure that I have to thank you for originat- 
ing such a favour. I shall do all I can to make myself worthy 
of it by my perseverance in putting all difficulties aside "^rom 
the subject I am now engaged in, and in which the light ia 
^rowing brighter every day. If that flachery disease had not 
/ome to complicate matters, everything would be well by now 
I cannot tell you how absolutely sure I now feel of my con** 
illusions concerning the corpuscle disease. I could say a great 
deal about the articles of Messrs. Bechamp, Estor and Bal- 
kan!, but I will follow your advice an^ answer nothing ..." 

Dumas had been advising Pasteur not to waste his time by 

1865—1870 141 

answering his adversaries and contradictors. Pasteur's sys- 
tem was making way; ten microscopes were set up, here and 
there, in the town of Alais; most seed merchants were taking 
up the examination of the dead moths, and the Pont-Gisquet 
colony had samples brought in daily for inspection. ''I have 
already prevented many failures for next year," he wrote to 
Dumas (June, 1867), "but I always beg as a favour that a little 
of the condemned seed may be raised, so as to confirm the 
exactness of my judgment.'' 

His system was indeed quite simple; at the moment when 
the moths leave their cocoons and mate with each other, the 
cultivator separates them and places each female on a little 
square of linen where it lays its eggs. The moth is afterwards 
pinned up in a comer of the same square of linen, where it 
gradually dries up ; later on, in aatumn or even in winter, the 
withered moth is moistened in a little water, pounded in a 
mortar, and the paste examined with a microscope. If the 
least trace of corpuscles appears the linen is burnt, together 
with the seed which would have perpetuated the disease. 

Pasteur came back to Paris to receive his medal; perhaps 
his presence was not absolutely necessary, but he did not ques- 
tion the summons he received. He always attached an absolute 
meaning to words and to things, not being one of those who 
accept titles and homage with an inward and ironical smile. 

The pageant of that distribution of prizes was well worth 
seeing, and July 1, 1867, is now remembered by many who 
were children at that time. Paris afforded a beautiful spec- 
tacle; the central avenue of the Tuileries garden, the Place 
de la Concorde, the Avenue des Champs Elysees, were lined 
along their full length by regiments of infantry, dragoons, 
Imperial Guards, etc., etc., standing motionless in the bright 
sunshine, waiting for the Emperor to pass. The Imperial 
carriage, drawn by eight horses, escorted by the Cent-Gardes 
in their pale blue uniform, and by the Lancers of the House- 
hold, advanced in triumphant array. Napoleon III sat next 
to the Empress, the Prince Imperial and Prince Napoleon 
facing them. From the Palais de I'Elysee, amidst equally 
magnificent ceremonial, the Sultan Abdul-Aziz and his son 
arrived; then followed a procession of foreign princes: the 
Crown Prince of Prussia, the Prince of Wales, Prince Humbert 
of Italy, the Duke and Duchess of Aosta, the Grand Duchess 
Marie of Eussia, all of whom have since borne a part in 


European politics. They entered the Palais de Tlndustrie and 
sat around the throne. From the ground to the first floor an 
immense stand was raised, affording seats for 17,000 persons. 
The walls were decorated with eagles bearing olive branches, 
symbolical of strength and peace. The Emperor in his speech 
dwelt upon these hopes of peace, whilst the Empress in white 
satin, wearing a diadem, and surrounded by white-robed prin- 
cesses, brightly smiled at these happy omens. 

On their names being called out, the candidates who had 
won Grand Prizes, and those about to be promoted in the 
Legion of Honour, went up one by one to the throne. Marshal 
Vaillant handed each case to the Emperor, who himself gave 
it to the recipient. This old Field-Marshal, with his rough 
bronzed face, who had been a captain in the retreat from 
Moscow and was now a Minister of Napoleon III, seemed a 
natural and glorious link between the First and the Second 
Empires. He was born at Dijon in humble circumstances, 
of which he was somewhat proud, a very cultured soldier, in- 
terested in scientific things, a member of the Institute. The 
names of certain members of the Legion of Honour promoted 
to a higher rank, such as Gerome and Meissonier, that of 
Ferdinand de Lesseps, rewarded for the achievement of the 
Suez Canal, excited great applause. Pasteur was called with- 
out provoking an equal curiosity: his scientific discoveries, in 
spite of their industrial applications, being as yet known but to 
a few. "I was struck,'' writes an eye-witness, ''with his 
simplicity and gravity; the seriousness of his life was visible in 
his stern, almost sad eyes." 

At the end of the ceremony, when the Imperial procession 
left the Palais de 1 'Industrie, an immense chorus, accompanied 
by an orchestra, sang Domine salvum fac imperaiorem. 

On his return to his study in the Rue d'Ulm, Pasteur again 
took up the management of the scientific studies of the Ecole 
Normale. But an incident put an end to his directorship, 
while bringing perturbation into the whole of the school. 
Sainte Beuve was the indirect cause of this small revolution. 
The Senate, of which he was a member, had had to examine 
a protest from 102 inhabitants of St. Etienne against the in- 
troduction into their popular libraries of the works of Voltaire, 
J. J. Rousseau, Balzac, E. Renan, and others. The com^ 
mittee had approved this petition in terms which identified the 
report with the petition itself- Sainte Beuve, too exclusively 

1865—1870 143 

literary in his tastes, and too radical in his opinions to be 
popular in the Senate, rose violently against this absolute and 
arbitrary judgment, forgetting everything but the jeopardy of 
free opinions before the excessive and inquisitorial zeal of the 
Senate. His speech was very unfavourably received, and ong 
of his colleagues, M. Lacaze, aged sixty-eight, challenged him 
to a duel. Sainte Beuve, himself then sixty-three years old, 
refused to enter into what he called ''the summary jurisprud- 
ence which consists in strangling a question and suppressing 
a man within forty-eight hours." 

The students of the Ecole Normale deputed one of their 
number to congratulate Sainte Beuve on his speech, and wrote 
the following letter — 

*'We have already thanked you for defending freedom of 
thought when misjudged and attacked; now that you have 
again pleaded for it, we beg you to receive our renewed 

'*We should be happy if the expression of our grateful 
sympathy could console you for this injustice. Courage is in- 
deed required to speak in the Senate in favour of the inde- 
pendence and the rights of thought ; but the task is all the more 
glorious for being more difficult. Addresses are now being 
sent from everywhere; you will forgive the students of the 
Ecole Normale for having followed the general lead and having 
sent their addresses to M. Sainte Beuve." 

This letter was published in a newspaper. Etienne Arago 
published it without remembering the Universite by-laws which 
forbade every sort of political manifestation to the students. 
It had given pleasure to Sainte Beuve, the pleasure that elderly 
men take in the applause of youth ; but he soon became uneasy 
at the results of this noisy publicity. 

Nisard, the Director of the school, could not very well 
tolerate this breach of discipline. In spite of the entreaties 
of Sainte Beuve, the student who had signed the letter was 
provisionally sent back to his family. His comrades revolted 
at this and imperiously demanded his immediate restoration. 
Pasteur attempted to pacify them by speaking to them, but 
failed utterly; his influence was very great over his own pupils, 
the students on the scientific side, but the others, the ^^T/f- 
ter aires," were the most violent on this question, and he was 
not diplomatic and conciliating enough to bring them round. 
They rose in a body, marched to the door, and the whole 


school was soon parading the streets. ''Before such disorder," 
concluded the Moniteur, relating the incident (July 10), ''the 
authorities were obliged to order an immediate closure. The 
school will be reconstituted and the classes will reopen on 
October 15." 

Both the literary and the political world were temporarily 
agitated; the Minister was interviewed. M. Thiers wrote to 
Pasteur on July 10: "My dear M. Pasteur, — I have been 
talking with some members of the Left, and I am certain or 
almost certain, that the Ecole Normale affair will be smoothed 
over in the interest of the students. M. Jules Simon intends to 
work in that direction; keep this information for yourself, 
and do the best you can on your side." 

At the idea that the Ecole was about to be reconstituted, 
that is, that the three great chiefs, Nisard, Pasteur and 
Jacquinet, would be changed, deep regret was manifested by 
Pasteur's scientific students. One of them, named Didon, ex- 
pressed it in these terms : " If your departure from the schooi 
is not definitely settled, if it is yet possible to prevent it, all 
the students of the Ecole will be only too happy to do every- 
thing in their power. ... As for me, it is impossible to express 
my gratitude towards you. No one has ever shown me so 
much interest, and never in my life shall I forget what you 
have done for me." 

Pasteur's interest in young men, his desire to excite in them 
scientific curiosity and enthusiasm, were now so well known 
that Didon and several others who had successfully passed the 
entrance examinations both for the Ecole Polytechnique and 
the Ecole Normale, had chosen to enter the latter in order to 
be under him; by the Normaliens of the scientific section, he 
was not only understood and admired, but beloved, almost 

Sainte Beuve, who continued to be much troubled at the 
consequences of his speech, wrote to the Minister of Public 
Instruction in favour of the rusticated student. Duruy thought 
so much of Sainte Beuve that the student, instead of being exiled 
to some insignificant country school, was made professor of 
seconde in the college of Sens. But it was specified that in the 
future no letter should be written, no public responsibility 
taken in the name of the Ecole without the authorization of 
the Director. 

Nisard left; Dumas had just been made President of tb* 

1865—1870 145 

Monetary Commission, thus leaving vacant a place as Inspector- 
General of Higher Education. Duruy, anxious to do Pasteur 
justice, thought this post most suitable to him as it would allow 
him to continue his researches. The decree was about to be 
signed, when Balard, professor of chemistry at the Faculty of 
Sciences, applied for the post. Pasteur wrote respectfully to 
the Minister of Public Instruction (July 31) : ''Your Excel- 
lency must know that twenty years ago, when I left the Ecole 
Normale, I was made a curator, thanks to M. Balard, who was 
then a professor at the Ecole Normale. A grateful pupil can- 
not enter into competition with a revered master, especially 
for a post where considerations of age and experience should 
have great weight." 

When Pasteur spoke of his masters, dead or living, Biot or 
Senarmont, Dumas or Balard, it might indeed have been 
thought that to them alone he owed it that he was what he 
vvas. He was heard on this occasion, and Balard obtained the 

Nisard was succeeded by M. F. Bouillier, whose place as 

Inspector-General of Secondary Education devolved on M. 

Jacquinet. The directorship of scientific studies was given tc 

Pasteur's old and excellent friend, the faithful Bertin. After 

teaching in Alsace for eighteen years, he had become maitre des 

conferences at the Ecole Normale in 1866, and also assistant 

of Regnault at the College de France. It had only been by 

dint of much persuasion that Pasteur had enticed him to Paris. 

*'What is the good?" said the unambitious Bertin; ''beer is 

not so good in Paris as in Strasburg. . . . Pasteur does not 

understand life; he is a genius, that is all!" But, under this 

apparent indolence, Bertin was possessed of the taste for and 

the art of teaching; Pasteur knew this, and, when Bertin was 

appointed, Pasteur's fears for the scientific future of his beloved 

Ecole were abated. Duruy, much regretting the break of 

Pasteur's connection with the great school, offered him the 

post of maUre des conferences, besides the chair of chemistry 

which Balard 's appointment had left vacant at the Sorbonne. 

But Pasteur declined the tempting offer; he knew the care and 

trouble that his public lectures cost him, and felt that the two 

posts v/ould be beyond his strength; if his time were taken up 

by that double task it would be almost impossible for him to 

pursue his private researches, which under no circumstances 

would he abandon. 


He carried his scruples so far as to give up his chemistry 
professorship at the School of Fine Arts, where he had been 
lecturing since 1863. He had endeavoured in his lessons to 
draw the attention of his artist pupils, who came from so many 
distant places, to the actual principles of Science. "Let us 
always make application our object," he said, "but resting on 
the stern and solid basis of scientific principles. Without 
those principles, application is nothing more than a series of 
recipes and constitutes what is called routine. Progress with 
routine is possible, but desperately slow." 

Another reason prevented him from accepting the post 
offered him at the Ecole Normale; this was that the tiny 
pavilion which he had made his laboratory was much too smal 
and too inconvenient to accommodate the pupils he would have 
to teach. The only suitable laboratory at the Ecole was that 
of his friend, Henri Sainte Claire Deville, and Pasteur was 
reluctant to invade it. He had a great affection for his bril- 
liant colleague, who was indeed a particularly charming man, 
still youthful in spite of his forty-nine summers, active, ener- 
getic, witty. "I have no wit," Pasteur would say quite 
simply. Deville was a great contrast to his two great friends 
Pasteur and Claude Bernard, with their grave meditative man- 
ner. He enjoyed boarding at the Ecole and having his meals 
at the students* table, where his gaiety brightened and amused 
everybody, effacing the distance between masters and pupils and 
yet never losing by this familiar attitude a particle of the 
respect he inspired. 

Sometimes, however, when preoccupied with the heavy ex- 
penses of his laboratory, he would invite himself to lunch with 
Duruy, from whom — as from the Emperor or any one else — - 
he usually succeeded in coaxing what he wanted. The general 
state of things connected with higher education was at that 
time most deplorable. The Sorbonne was as Richelieu had 
left it — the Museum was sadly inadequate. At the College de 
Prance, it was indeed impossible to call by the name of labora- 
tory the narrow, damp and unhealthy cellars, which Claude 
Bernard called "scientists' graves," and where he had con- 
tracted the long illness from which he was only just recovering. 

Duruy understood and deplored this penury, but his voice 
was scarcely heard in cabinet councils, the other Ministers 
being absorbed in politics. Pasteur, whose self-effacing modesty 
disappeared when the interests of science were in question, pre* 

1865—1870 147 

uented to Napoleon, through the medium of his enlightened 
aide de camp, General Fave, the following letter, a most in- 
teresting one, for, in it, possibilities of future discoveries are 
hinted at, which later became accomplished facts. 

*'Sire, — My researches on fermentations and on microscopic 
organisms have opened to physiological chemistry new roads, 
the benefit of which is beginning to be felt both by agricul- 
tural industries and by medical studies. But the field still to 
be explored is immense. My great desire would be to explore 
it with a new ardour, unrestrained by the insufficiency of 
material means. 

*'I should wish to have a spacious laboratory, with one or 
two outhouses attached to it, which I could make use of when 
making experiments possibly injurious to health, such as might 
be the scientific study of putrid and infectious diseases. 

*'How can researches be attempted on gangrene, virus or 
inoculations, without a building suitable for the housing of 
gnimals, either dead or alive? Butchers' meat in Europe 
reaches an exorbitant price, in Buenos Ayres it is given away. 
How, in a small and incomplete laboratory, can experiments 
be made, and various processes tested, which would facilitate 
its transport and preservation? The so-called * splenic fever' 
■costs the Beauce ^ about 4,000,000 francs annually ; it would be 
indispensable to go and spend some weeks in the neighbour- 
hood of Chartres during several consecutive summers, and make 
minute observations. 

*' These researches and a thousand others which correspond 
in my mind to the great act of transformation after death of 
organic matter, and the compulsory return to the ground and 
atmosphere of all which has once been living, are only com- 
patible with the installation of a great laboratory. The time 
has now come when experimental science should be freed from 
its bonds ..." 

The Emperor wrote to Duruy the very next day, desiring 
that Pasteur's wish should be acceded to. Duruy gladly 
acquiesced and plans began to be drawn out. Pasteur, who 
scarcely dared believe in these bright hopes, was consulted 
about the situation, size, etc., of the future building, and 

1 Ancient name of the high flat ground surrounding Chartres and 
including parts of the Departments of Eure et Loir, Loir et Cher, Loiret 
and Seine et Oise. These plains are very fertile, the soil being (U 
tremely rich, and produce cereaU chiefly. [Trans.] 


looked forward to obtaining the help of Raulin, his former 
pupil, when he had room enough to experiment on a larger 
scale. The proposed site was part of the garden of the Ecole 
Normale, where the pavilion already existing could be greatly 
added to. 

In the meanwhile Pasteur was interviewed by the Mayor 
and the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Orleans, 
who begged him to come to Orleans and give a public lecture 
on the results of his studies on vinegar. He consented with 
pleasure, ever willing to attempt awakening the interest of the 
public in his beloved Science — ''Science, which brings man 
nearer to God." 

It was on the Monday, November 11, at 7.30 p.m., that 
Pasteur entered the lecture room at Orleans. A great many 
vinegar manufacturers, some doctors, apothecaries, professors, 
students, even ladies, had come to hear him. An account in 
a contemporary local paper gives us a description of the young 
tst member of the Academic des Sciences as he appeared 
before the Orleans public. He is described as of a medium 
height, his face pale, his eyes very bright through his glasses, 
scrupulously neat in his dress, with a tiny Legion of Honoui 
rosette in his button hole. 

He began his lecture with the following simple words: "The 
Mayor and the President of the Chamber of Commerce ha-^ing 
heard that I had studied the fermentation which produces 
vinegar, have asked me to lay before the vinegar makers of 
this town the results of my work. I have hastened to comply 
with their request, fully sharing in the desire which instigated 
it, that of being useful to an industry which is one of the 
sources of the fortune of your city and of your department.*' 

He tried to make them understand scientifically the wel? 
known fact of the transformation of wine into vinegar. He 
showed that all the work came from a little plant, a micro- 
scopic fungus, the mycoderma ac^ti. After exhibiting an en' 
larged picture of that mycoderma, Pasteur explained that the 
least trace of that little vinegar-making plant, sown on the sur* 
face of any alcoholic and slightly acid liquid, was sufficient to 
produce a prodigious extension of it ; in summer or artificial 
heat, said Pasteur, a surface of liquid of the same area as the 
Orleans Lecture room could be covered in forty-eight hours. 
The mycodermic veil is sometimes smooth and hardly visible, 
Sometimes wrinkled and a little greasy to the touch. The fattjr 

1865—1870 14^ 

matter which accompanies the development of the plant keeps 
it on the surface, air being necessary to the plant; it would 
otherwise perish and the acetification would be arrested. Thus 
floating, the mj^coderma absorbs oxygen from the air and fixes 
it on the alcohol, which becomes transformed into acetic acid. 

Pasteur explained all the details in his clear powerful 
voice. Why, in an open bottle, does wine left to itself become 
vinegar? Because, thanks to the air, and to the mycoderma 
aceti (which need never be sown, being ever mixed with the 
in-^dsible dusts in the air), the chemical transformation of wine 
into vinegar can take place. Why does not a full, closed bottle 
become acetified? Because the mycoderma cannot multiply in 
the absence of air. Wine and air heated in the same vessel 
will not become sour, the high temperature having killed the 
germs of mycoderma aceti both in the wine itself and in the 
dusts suspended in the air. But, if a vessel containing wine 
previously heated is exposed to the free contact of ordinary air, 
the wine may become sour, for, though the germs in the wine 
have been killed, other germs may fall into it from the air and 

Finally, if pure alcoholized water does not become acetified, 
though germs can drop into it from the air, it is because it 
does not offer to those germs the food necessary to the plant 
— food which is present in wine but not in alcoholized water. 
But if a suitable aliment for the little plant is added to the 
water, acetification takes place. 

When the acetification is complete, the mycoderma, if not 
submerged, continues to act, and, when not arrested in time, 
its oxidating power becomes dangerous; having no more 
alcohol to act upon, it ends by transforming acetic acid itself 
into water and carbonic acid gas, and the work of death and 
destruction is thus achieved. 

Speaking of that last phase of the mycoderma aceti, he went 
on to general laws — laws of the universe by which all that has 
lived must disappear. **It is an absolute necessity that the 
matter of which living beings are formed should return after 
their death to the ground and to the atmosphere in the shape 
of mineral or gaseous substances^ such as steam, carbonic acid 
gas, ammoniac gas or nitrogen — simple principles easily dis- 
placed by movements of the atmosphere and in which life is 
again enabled to seek the elements of its indefinite perpetuity. 
It is chiefly through acts of fermentation and slow combustioip 


that this law of dissolution and return to a gaseous state is 

Coming back to his special subject, he pointed out to vinegar 
manufacturers the cause of certain failures and the danger of 
certain errors. 

It was imagined for instance that some microscopic beings, 
anguillulae, of which Pasteur projected an enlarged wriggling 
image on the screen, and which were to be found in the tubs of 
some Orleans vinegar works, were of some practical utility. 
Pasteur explained their injurious character: as they require air 
to live, and as the mycoderma, in order to accomplish its work, 
is equally dependent on oxygen, a struggle takes place between 
the anguillulae and the mycoderma. If acetification is success- 
ful, if the mycoderma spreads and invades everything, the 
vanquished anguillulae are obliged to take refuge against the 
sides of the barrel, from which their little living army watches 
the least accidental break of the veil. Pasteur, armed with a 
magnifying glass, had many times witnessed the struggle for 
life which takes place between the little fungi and the tiny 
animals, each fighting for the surface of the liquid. Some- 
times, gathering themselves into masses, the anguillulae sue* 
ceed in sinking a fragment of the mycodermic veil and victori- 
ously destroying the action of the drowned plants. 

Pasteur related all this in a vivid manner, evidently happy 
that his long and delicate laboratory researches should now 
pass into the domain of industry. He had been pleased to find 
that some Orleans wine merchants heated wine according to 
his advice in order to preserve it; and he now informed them 
that the temperature of 55° C. which killed germs and vegeta- 
tions in wine could be applied with equal success to vinegar 
after it was produced. The active germs of the mycoderma 
aceti were thus arrested at the right moment, the anguillulae 
were killed and the vinegar remained pure and unaltered. 
** Nothing," concluded Pasteur, '4s more agreeable to a man 
who has made science his career than to increase the number 
of discoveries, but his cup of joy is full when the result of his 
observations is put to immediate practical use." 

This year 1867 marks a specially interesting period in 
Pasteur's life. At Alais he had shown himself an incomparable 
observer, solely preoccupied with the silkworm disease, think- 
ing, speaking of nothing else. He would rise long before any 
one else so as to begin earlier the study of the experiments he 

1865—1870 151 

had started, and would give his thought and attention to some 
detail for hours at a time. After this minute observation he 
would suddenly display a marvellous ingenuity in varying tests, 
foreseeing and avoiding causes of error, and at last, after so 
many efforts, a clear and decisive experiment would come, as it 
had done in the cases of spontaneous generation and of 

The contrasts in his mind had their parallel in his character : 
this usually thoughtful, almost dreamy man, absorbed in one 
idea, suddenly revealed himself a man of action if provoked by 
some erroneous newspaper report or some illogical statement, 
and especially when he heard of some unscrupulous silkworm 
seed merchant sowing ruin in poor magnaneries for the sake of 
a paltry gain. When, on his return to Paris, he found himself 
mixed up with the small revolution in the Ecole Normale, he 
was seen to efface himself modestly before his masters when 
honours and titles came in question. Now he had interrupted 
his researches in order to do a kindness to the people of Orleans, 
who, practical as they were, and perhaps a little disdainful of 
laboratory theories, had been surprised to find him as careful 
of the smallest detail as they themselves were. 

He was then in the full maturity of his forty-five years. His 
great intuition, his imagination, which equalled any poet's, 
often carried him to a summit whence an immense horizon lay 
before him; he would then suddenly doubt this imagination, 
resolutely, with a violent effort, force his mind to start again 
along the path of experimental method, and, surely and slowly, 
gathering proofs as he went, he would once more reach his 
exalted and general ideas. This constant struggle within him- 
self was almost dramatic ; the words ' ' Perseverance in Effort, ' ' 
which he often used in the form of advice to others, or as a 
programme for his own work, seemed to bring something far 
away, something infinite before his dreamy eyes. 

At the end of the year, an obstacle almost arrested the great 
experiments he contemplated. He heard that the promises 
made to him were vanishing away, the necessary credit having 
been refused for the building of the new laboratory. And this, 
Pasteur sadlv reflected, when millions and millions of francs 
were being spent on the Opera house ! "Wounded in his feel- 
ings, both as a scientist and a patriot, he prepared for the 
Moniteur, then the official paper, an article destined to shakr 
^he culpable indifference of public authorities. 



. The boldest conceptions/' he wrote, ''the most 
legitimate speculations can be embodied but from the day when 
they are consecrated by observation and experiment. Labora 
tories and discoveries are correlative terms; if you suppress 
laboratories, Physical Science will become stricken with barren- 
ness and death; it will become mere powerless information in- 
stead of a science of progress and futurity; give it back its 
laboratories, and life, fecundity and power will reappear. Away 
from their laboratories, physicists and chemists are but dis- 
armed soldiers on a battlefield. 

''The deduction from these principles is evident: if the con- 
quests useful to humanity touch your heart — if you remain 
confounded before the marvels of electric telegraphy, of anaes- 
thesia, of the daguerreotype and many other admirable dis- 
coveries — if you are jealous of the share your country may boast 
in these wonders — then, I implore you, take some interest in 
those sacred dwellings ineaningly described as lah oratories. 
Ask that they may be multiplied and completed. They are the 
temples of the future, of riches and of comfort. There 
humanity grows greater, better, stronger; there she can learn 
to read the works of Nature, works of progress and universal 
harmony, while humanity's own works are too often those of 
barbarism, of fanaticism and of destruction. 

"Some nations have felt the wholesome breath of truth. 
Rich and large laboratories have been growing in Germany for 
the last thirty years, and many more are still being built; at 
Berlin and at Bonn two palaces, worth four million francs each, 
are being erected for chemical studies. St. Petersburg has 
spent three and a half million francs on a Physiological Insti- 
tute; England, America, Austria, Bavaria have made most 
generous sacrifices. Italy too has made a start. 

"And France? 

"France has not yet begun. . . .'' He mentioned the 
sepulchre-like cellar where the great physiologist, Claude 
Bernard, was obliged to live; "and where?" wrote Pasteur. 
' ' In the very establishment which bears the name of the mother 
country, the College de France!" The laboratory of the Sor- 
bonne was no better — a damp, dark room, one metre below the 
level of the street. He went on, demonstrating that the pro- 
vincial Faculties were as destitute as those of Paris. "Who 
will believe me when I affirm that the budget of Public Instruc- 
tion provides not a penny towards the progress o^ physical 

1865—1870 153 

science in laboratories, that it is througli a tolerated adminis- 
trative fiction that some scientists, considered as professors, 
are permitted to draw from the public treasury towards the 
expenses of their own work, some of the allowance made to 
them for teaching purposes/' 

The manuscript was sent to the Monifeur at the beginning 
of January, 1868. It had lately been publishing mild articles 
on Mussulman architecture, then on herring fishing in Norway. 
The official whose business it was to read over the articles sent 
to the paper literally jumped in his chair when he read this 
fiery denunciation; he declared those pages must be modified, 
cut down; the Administration could not be attacked in that 
way, especially by one of its own functionaries! M. Dalloz, 
the editor of the paper, knew that Pasteur would never consent 
to any alterations; he advised him to show the proofs to M. 
Conti, Napoleon Ill's secretary. 

''The article cannot appear in the Moniteur, but why not 
publish it in booklet form?" wrote M. Conti to Pasteur 
after having shown these revelations to the Emperor. 
Napoleon, talking to Duruy the next day, January 9, showed 
great concern at such a state of things. ''Pasteur is right,*' 
said Duruy, "to expose such deficiencies; it is the best way 
to have them remedied. Is it not deplorable, almost scan- 
dalous, that the official world should be so indifferent on 
questions of science?" 

Duruy felt his combative instincts awakening. How many 
times, in spite of his good humour and almost Roman intre- 
pidity, he had asked himself whether he would ever succeed 
in causing his ideas on higher education to prevail with his col- 
leagues, the other Ministers, who, carried away by their daily 
discussions, hardly seemed to realize that the true supremacy 
of a nation does not reside in speeches, but in the silent and 
tenacious work of a few men of science and of letters. Pasteur's 
article entitled Science's Budget appeared first in the Revue 
des cours scientifiques, then as a pamphlet. Pasteur, not con- 
tent with this, continued his campaign by impetuous speeches 
whenever the opportunity offered. On March 10, he saw himself 
nearing his goal, and wrote to Raulin : ' ' There is now a marked 
movement in favour of Science; I think I shall succeed." 

Six days later, on March 16, whilst the Court was celebrat- 
ing the birthday of the Prince Imperial, Napoleon III, who, 
«ii reading Pasteur's article, had expressed his intention of 


consulting not only Pasteur, but also Milne-Edwards, Claude 
Bernard, and Henri Sainte Claire Deville, asked the four 
scientists to his study to meet Rouher, Marshal Vaillant and 
Duruy, perhaps the three men of the Empire who were best 
qualified to hear them. The Emperor in his slow, detached 
manner, invited each of his guests to express his opinion on 
the course to follow. All agreed in regretting that pure 
science should be given up. When Rouher said that it was 
not to be wondered at that the reign of applied science should 
follow that of pure science, ''But if the sources of applications 
are dried up!" interposed the Emperor hastily. Pasteur, 
asked to express his opinion (he had brought with him notes 
of what he wished to say), recalled the fact that the Natural 
History Museum and the Ecole Poly technique, which had had 
so great a share in the scientific movement of the early part of 
the century, were no longer in that heroic period. For the last 
twenty years the industrial prosperity of France had induced 
the cleverest Polytechnicians to desert higher studies and 
theoretical science, though the source of all applications was to 
be found in theory. The Ecole Polytechnique was obliged now 
to recruit its teaching staff outside, chiefly among Normaliens.. 
What was to be done to train future scientists? This: to 
maintain in Paris, during two or three years, five or six 
graduates chosen from the best students of the large schools as 
curators or preparation masters, doing at the Ecole Polytech- 
nique and other establishments what was done at the Ecole 
Normale. Thanks to that special institution, science and 
higher teaching would have a reserve of men who would be- 
come an honour to their country. Next, and this was the 
second point, no less important than the first, scientists should 
be given resources better appropriated to the pursuit of their 
work; as in Germany, for instance, where a scientist would 
leave one university for another on the express condition that 
a laboratory should be built for him, *'a laboratory," said 
Pasteur, ''usually magnificent, not in its architecture (though 
sometimes that is the case, a proof of the national pride in 
scientific glory), but in the number and perfection of its 
appliances. Besides," he added, "foreign scientists have their 
private homes adjoining their laboratories and collections," 
indeed a most pressing inducement to work. 

Pasteur did not suggest that a scientist should give up teach- 
ing ; he recognized, on the contrary, that public teaching forces 

1865—1870 155 

him to embrace in succession every branch of the science he 
teaches. ''But let him not give too frequent or too varied 
lectures ! they paralyze the faculties, ' ' he said, being well 
aware of the cost of preparing classes. He wished that towns 
should be interested in the working and success of their scien- 
tific establishments. The Universities of Paris, of Lvons, of 
Strasburg, of Montpellier, of Lille, of Bordeaux, and of 
Toulouse, forming as a whole the University of France, should 
be connected to the neighbourhood which they honour in the 
same way that German universities are connected with their 

Pasteur had the greatest admiration for the German system: 
popular instruction literally provided, and, above it, an intel- 
lectually independent higher teaching. Therefore, when the 
University of Bonn resolved in that year, 1868, to offer him as 
a great homage the degree of M.D. on account of his works 
on micro-organisms, he was proud to see his researches rated 
at their proper value by a neighbouring nation. He did not 
then suspect the other side of German nature, the military 
side, then very differently preoccupied. Those preoccupations 
were pointed out to the French Government in a spirit of 
prophecy, and with some patriotic anguish, by two French 
officers, General Ducrot, commanding since 1865 the 6th Mili- 
tary Division, whose headquarters were at Strasburg, and 
Colonel Baron Stoffel, military attache in Prussia since 1866. 
Their warnings were so little heeded that some Court intrigues 
were even then on foot to transfer General Ducrot from Stras- 
burg to Bourges, so that he might no longer worry people with 
his monomania of Prussian ambition. 

On March 10, the evening of the day when the Emperor 
decided upon making improvements, and when Duruy felt 
assured, thanks to the promised allowances, that he could soon 
-offer to French professors "the necessary appliances with 
which to compete with their rivals beyond the Rhine," Pasteur 
started for Alais, where his arrival was impatiently awaited, 
both by partisans and adversaries of his experiments on silk- 
worm disease. He would much have liked to give the results 
of his work in his inaugural lecture at the Sorbonne. ''But," 
he wrote to Duruy, "these are but selfishly sentimental 
reasons, which must be outweighed by thje interest of my 

On his arrival he found to his joy that those who had pra<i 


tised seeding according to his rigorous prescriptions had met 
with complete success. Other silkworm cultivators, less well 
advised, duped by the decoying appearances of certain broods, 
had not taken the trouble to examine whether the moths were 
corpuscled; they were witnesses and victims of the failure 
Pasteur had prophesied. He now looked upon pebrine as con- 
quered; but flachery remained, more difficult to prevent, being 
greatly dependent upon the accidents which traverse the life of 
a silkworm. Some of those accidents happen in spite of all 
precautions, such as a sudden change of temperature or a 
stormy day ; but at least the leaves of the mulberry tree could be 
carefully kept from fermentation, or from contamination by 
dusts in the nurseries. Either of those two causes was suf- 
ficient to provoke a fatal disorder in silkworms, the feeding of 
which is so important that they increase to fifteen thousand 
times their own weight during the first month of their life. 
Accidental flachery could therefore be avoided by hygienic pre- 
cautions. In order to prevent it from becoming hereditary, 
Pasteur — who had pointed out that the micro-organism which 
causes it develops at first in the intestinal canal of the worm 
and then becomes localized in the digestive cavity of the chry- 
salis — advised the following means of producing a healthy 
strain of silkworms: "This means,'* writes M. Gernez, 
Pasteur's assiduous collaborator in these studies, "does not 
greatly complicate operations, and infallibly ensures healthy 
seed. It consists in abstracting with the point of a scalpel a 
smaU portion of the digestive cavity of a moth, then mixing 
it with a little water and examining it with a microscope. If 
the moths do not contain the characteristic micro-organism, the 
strain they come from may unhesitatingly be considered as 
suitable for seeding. The flachery micro-organism is as easily 
recognized as the pebrine corpuscle." 

The seed merchants, made uneasy by these discoveries which 
so gravely jeopardized their industry, spread the most slan- 
derous reports about them and made themselves the willing 
echo of every imposture, however incredible. M. Laurent 
wrote to his daughter, Madame Pasteur, in a letter dated from 
Lyons (June 6) : "It is being reported here that the failure of 
Pasteur's process has excited the population of your neighbour- 
hood so much that he has had to flee from Alais, pursued by 
infuriated inhabitants throwing stones after him." Some of 
these legends lingered in the minds of ignorant people. 

1865—1870 157 

Important news came from Paris to Pasteur in July, and on 
'the 27th he was able to write to Raulin: ''The building of my 
laboratory is going to be begun ! the orders are given, and the 
money found. I heard this two days ago from the Minister.'* 
30,000 francs had been allowed for the work by the Minister 
of Public Instruction, and an equal sum was promised by the 
Minister of the Emperor's household. Duruy wa? preparing 
at the same time a report on two projected decrees concerning 
laboratories for teaching purposes and for research. "The 
laboratory for research," wrote Duruy, ''will not be useful to 
the master alone, but more so even to the students, thus ensur- 
ing the future progress of science. Students already pro- 
vided with extensive theoretical knowledge will be initiated in 
the teaching laboratories into the handling of instruments, 
elementary manipulations, and what I may call classical prac- 
tice ; this will gather them around eminent masters, from whom 
they will learn the art of observation and methods of experi- 
ment. ... It is with similar institutions that Germany has 
succeeded in obtaining the great development of experimental 
science which we are now watching with an anxious 
sympathy. ' ' 

Pasteur returned to Paris with his enthusiastic mind over- 
flowing with plans of all kinds of research. He wanted to be 
there when the builders began their work on the narrow space 
in the Rue d'Ulm. He wrote to Raulin on August 10, asking 
his opinion as he would that of an architect ; then went on to 
say, planning out his busy holidays: '*I shall leave Paris on 
the 16th with my wife and children to spend three weeks at 
the seaside, at St. George's, near Bordeaux. If you were free 
at the end of the month, or at the beginning of September, I 
wish you could accompany me to Toulon, where experiments 
on the heating of wines will be made by the Minister of the 
Navy. Great quantities of heated and of non-heated wine are 
to be sent to Gabon so as to test the process; at present our 
colonial crews have to drink mere vinegar. A commission of 
very enlightened men is formed and has begun studies with 
which it seems satisfied. . . . See if you can join me at Bor- 
deaux, where I shall await a notice from the chairman of the 
Commission, M. de Lapparent, director of naval construction 
at the Ministry of Marine." 

The Commission mentioned by Pasteur had been considering 
for the last two years the expediency of applyinir the hP8tin<? 


process to wines destined for the fleet and to the colonies. A 
first trial was made at Brest on the contents of a barrel of 500 
litres, half of which was heated. Then the two wines were 
sealed in different barrels and placed in the ship Jean Bart, 
which remained away from the harbour for ten months. 
"When the vessel returned, the Commission noted the limpidity 
and mellowness of the heated wine, adding in the official report 
that the wine had acquired the attractive colour peculiar to 
mature wines. The non-heated wine was equally limpid, but 
it had an astringent, almost acid flavour. It was still fit to 
drink, said the report, but it were better to consume it rapidly, 
as it would soon be entirely spoilt. Identical results wer^ 
observed in some bottles of heated and non-heated wines at 
Kochefort and Orleans. 

M. de Lapparent now organized a decisive experiment, to 
take place under Pasteur's superintendence. The frigate la 
Sibylle started for a tour round the world with a complete cargo 
of heated wine. Pasteur, who returned to Arbois for a short 
rest before going back to Paris, wrote from there to his early 
confidant, Chappuis (September 21, 1868) : ''I am quite satis- 
fied with my experiments at Toulon and with the success of tLa 
Navy tests. We heated 650 hectolitres in two days; thr^ 
rapidity of this operation lends itself to quick and considerable 
commissariat arrangements. Those 650 hectolitres will be 
taken to the West Coast of Africa, together with 50 hectolitres 
of the same wine non-heated. If the trial succeeds, that is to 
say if the 650 hectolitres arrive and can be kept without altera- 
tion, and if the 50 hectolitres become spoilt (I feel confident 
after the experiments I have made that such will be the result), 
the question will be settled, and, in the future, all the wine 
for the Navy will be ensured against disease by a preliminary 
heating. The expense will not be more than five centimes 
per hectolitre. The result of these experiments will have a 
great influence on the trade, ever cautious and afraid of innova- 
tions. Yet we have seen, at Narbonne in particular, some 
heating practised on a large scale by several merchants who 
have spoken to me very favourably about it. The exportation 
of our French wines will increase enormously, for at present 
our ordinary table wines lend themselves to trade with England 
and other countries beyond seas, but only by means of a strong 
addition of alcohol, which raises their price and tampers with 
theii hygienic qualitief^.'" 

1865—1870 159 

The experiments were successful. Pasteur's life was now 
over full. He returned to Paris at the beginning of October, 
and threw himself into his work, his classes at the Sorbonne, 
the organization of his laboratory, some further polemics on 
the subject of silkworm disease, and projected experiments for 
the following year. This accumulation of mental work 
brought about extreme cerebral tension. 

As soon as he saw M. Gernez, he spoke to him of the coming 
campaign of sericiculture, of his desire to reduce his adver- 
saries to silence by heaping proof upon proof. Nothing could 
relieve him from that absorbing preoccupation, not even the 
gaiety of Bertin, who, living on the same floor at the Ecole 
Normale, often used to come in after dinner and try to amuse 

On Monday, October 19, Pasteur, though suffering from a 
strange tingling sensation of the left side, had a great desire 
to go and read to the Academic des Sciences a treatise by Salim- 
beni, an Italian, who, having studied and verified Pasteur's 
results, declared that the best means of regenerating the cul- 
ture of silkworms was due to the French scientist. This 
treatise, the diploma of the Bonn University, the Rumford 
medal offered by the English, all those testimonials from neigh- 
bouring nations were infinitely agreeable to Pasteur, who was 
proud to lay such homage before the shrine of France. On 
that day, October 19, 1868, a date which became a bitter 
memory to his family and friends — in spite of an alarming 
shivering fit which had caused him to lie down immediately 
after lunch instead of working as usual — he insisted on going 
to the Academy sitting at half past two. 

Mme. Pasteur, vaguely uneasy, made a pretext of some shop- 
ping beyond the Quai Conti and accompanied him as far as the 
vestibule of the Institute. As she was turning back, she met 
Balard, who was coming up with the quick step of a young 
man, stopped him and asked him to walk back with Pasteur, 
and not to leave him before reacliing his own door, though 
indeed it seemed a curious exchange of parts to ask Balard at 
sixty years of age to watch over Pasteur still so young. Pasteur 
read Salimbeni's paper in his usual steady voice, remained 
until the end of the sitting and walked back with Balard and 
Sainte Claire Deville. He dined very lightly and went to bed 
at nine o'clock; he had hardly got into bed when he felt him* 
self attacked by the strange symptoms of the afternoon. He 


tried to speak, but in vain ; after a few moments he was able to 
call for assistance. Mme. Pasteur sent at once for Dr. 
Godelier, an intimate friend of the family, an army surgeon, 
Clinical Professor at the Ecole du Val-de-Grace ^ ; and Pasteur, 
paralysed one moment and free again the next, explained his 
own symptoms during the intervals of the dark struggle which 
endangered his life. 

The cerebral haemorrhage gradually brought about absence 
of movement along the entire left side. When the next morn- 
ing Dr. Noel Gueneau de Mussy, going his regulation round of 
the Ecole Normale students, came into his room and said, so as 
not to alarm him, *'I heard you were unwell, and thought I 
would come to see you,'' Pasteur smiled the sad smile of a 
patient with no illusions. Drs. Godelier and Gueneau de 
Mussy decided to call Dr. Andral in consultation, and went to 
fetch him at three o'clock at the Academic de Medecine. Some- 
what disconcerted by the singular character of this attack of 
hemiplegia, Andral prescribed the application of sixteen leeches 
behind the ears; blood flowed abundantly, and Dr. Godelier 
wrote in the evening bulletin (Tuesday) : *' Speech clearer, 
some movements of the paralysed limbs; intelligence perfect." 
Later, at ten o'clock: *' Complains of his paralysed arm." 
**It is like lead; if it could only be cut off!" groaned Pasteur. 
About 2 a.m. Mme. Pasteur thought all hope was gone. The 
hastily written bulletin reads thus: *^ Intense cold, anxious 
agitation, features depressed, eyes languid." The sleep which 
followed was as the sleep of death. 

At dawn Pasteur awoke from this drowsiness. '* Mental 
faculties still absolutely intact," wrote M. Godelier at 12.30 
on Wednesday, October 21. **The cerebral lesion, whatever 
it may be, is not worse; there is an evident pause." Two 
hours later the words, ''Mind active," were followed by the 
startling statement, ''Would willingly talk science." 

While these periods of calm, agitation, renewed hopes, and 
despair were succeeding each other in the course of those 
thirty-six hours, Pasteur's friends hastened to his bedside. He 
said to Henri Sainte Claire Deville, one of the first to come: 
"I am sorry to die; I wante i to do much more for my 
country." Sainte Claire Deville, trying to hide his grief under 

1 Val-de-Gruce. A handsome monument of tlie seventeenth century 
cow k military hospital. [Trans.] 

1865—1870 161 

apparent confidence, answered, ''Never fear; you will recover, 
you will make many more marvellous discoveries, you will live 
happy days; I am your senior, you will survive me. Promise 
me that you will pronounce my funeral oration. ... I wish you 
would; you would say nice things of me," he added between 
tears and smiles. 

Bertin, Gernez, Duclaux, Raulin, Didon, then a curator at 
the Ecole Normale, Professor Auguste Lamy, the geologist 
Marcou (the two latter being Franche-comte friends), all 
claimed the privilege of helping Mme. Pasteur and M. Godelier 
in nursing one who inspired them all, not merely with an 
admiring and devoted affection, but with a feeling of tenderness 
amounting almost to a cult. 

A private letter from a cousin, Mme. Cribier, gives an idea 
of these dark days (October 26, 1868): **The news is rather 
good this morning; the patient was able to sleep for a few 
hours last night, which he had not yet done. He had been so 
restless all day that M, Godelier felt uneasy about him and 
ordered complete silence in the whole flat; it was only in the 
study which is farthest away from the bedroom, and which has 
padded doors, that one was allowed to talk. That room is full 
from morning till night. All scientific Paris comes to inquire 
anxiously after the patient ; intimate friends take it in turns to 
watch by hira. Dumas, the great chemist, was affectionately 
insisting on taking his turn yesterday. Every morning the 
Emperor and Empress send a footman for news, which >L 
Godelier gives him in a sealed envelope. In fact, every mark 
of sympathy is given to poor Marie, and I hope that the worst 
may be spared her in spite of the alarming beginning. His 
mind seems so absolutely untouched, and he is still so young, 
that with rest and care he might yet be able to do some work. 
His stroke is accompanied by symptoms which are now occu- 
pying the attention of the whole Academy of Medicine. 
Paralysis always comes abruptly, whilst for M. Pasteur, it came 
in little successive fits, twenty or thirty perhaps, and was 
only complete at the end of twenty-four hours, which com- 
pletely disconcerted the doctors who watched him, and delayed 
their ha\dng recourse to an active treatment. It seems that 
this fact is observed for the first time, and is puzzling the 
whole Faculty.'* 

M. Pasteur's mind remained clear, luminous, dominating 
ids prostrate body; he was evidently afraid that he should die 


before having thoroughly settled the question of silkworm 
diseases. ''One night that I was alone with him/' relates M. 
Gernez, who hardly left his bedside during that terrible week, 
"after endeavouring in vain to distract his thoughts, I despair- 
ingly gave up the attempt and allowed him to express the ideas 
which were on his mind ; finding, to my surprise, that they had 
his accustomed clearness and conciseness, I wrote what he dic- 
tated without altering a word, and the next day I brought to 
his illustrious colleague, Dumas — who hardly credited his 
senses — the memorandum which appeared in the report of the 
Academic on October 26, 1868, a week after the stroke which 
nearly killed him! It was a note on a very ingenious process 
for discovering in the earlier tests those eggs which are pre- 
disposed to flachery. 

The members of the Academy were much cheered by the 
reading of this note, which seemed to bring Pasteur back into 
their midst. 

The building of the laboratory had been begun, and hoard- 
ings erected around the site. Pasteur, from his bed, asked 
day by day, "How are they getting on?" But his wife and 
daughter, going to the window of the dining-room which over- 
looked the Ecole Normale garden, only brought him back 
vague answers, for, as a matter of fact, the workmen had dis- 
appeared from the very first day of Pasteur's illness. All that 
could be seen was a solitary labourer wheeling a barrow aim- 
lessly about, probably under the orders of some official who 
feared to alarm the patient. 

As Pasteur was not expected to recover, the trouble and 
expense were deemed unnecessary. Pasteur soon became 
aware of this, and one day that General Fave had come to see 
him he gave vent to some bitter feelings as to this cautious 
interruption of the building works, saying that it would have 
been simpler and more straightforward to state from the begin- 
ning that the work was suspended in the expectation of a 
probable demise. 

Napoleon was informed of this excess of zeal, not only by 
General Fave, but by Sainte Claire Deville, who was a guest 
at Compiegne at the beginning of November, 1868. He wrote 
to the ^Minister of Public Instruction — 

"My dear M. Duruy, — I have heard that — unknown to you 
probablj^ — the men who were working at M. Pasteur's labora- 
tory were kept away from the very day he became ill ; he has 

1865—1870 163 

been much affected by this circumstance, which seemed to 
point to his non-recovery. I beg you will issue orders that the 
work begun should be continued. Believe in my sincere 
friendship. — Napoleon. ' ' 

Duruy immediately sent on this note to M. du Mesnil, whose 
somewhat long title was that of ''Chief of the Division of 
Academic Administration of Scientific Establishments and of 
Higher Education." M. du Mesnil evidently repudiated the 
charge for himself or for his Minister, for he wrote in a large 
hand, on the very margin of the Imperial autograph — 

'*M. Duruy gave no orders and had to give none. It is at 
his solicitation that the works were undertaken, but it is the 
Direction of Civic Buildings alone which can have interrupted 
them ; the fact should be verified ' ' 

M. de Cardaillac, head of the Direction of Civic Buildings, 
made an inquiry and the building was resumed. 

It was only on November 30 that Pasteur left his bed for 
the first time and spent an hour in his armchair. He clearly 
analyzed to himself his melancholy condition, stricken down 
as he was by hemiplegia in his forty-sixth year; but having 
noticed that his remarks saddened his wife and daughter, he 
spoke no more about his illness, and only expressed his anxiety 
not to be a trouble, a burden, he said, to his wife, his son and 
daughter, and the devoted friends who helped to watch him at 

In the daytime each offered to read to him. General Fave, 
whose active and inquiring mind was ever on the alert, brought 
him on one of his almost daily visits an ideal sick man's book, 
easy to read and offering food for meditation. It was the trans- 
lation of an English book called Self-Help,^ and it consisted in 
a series of biographies, histories of lives illustrating the power 
of courage, devotion or intelligence. The author, glad to ex- 
pound a discovery, to describe a masterpiece, to relate noble 
enterprises, to dwell upon the prodigies which energy can 
achieve, had succeeded in making a homogeneous whole of 
these unconnected narratives, a sort of homage to Will- 

Pasteur agreed with the English writer in thinking that the 
supremacy of a nation resides in *'the sum total of private 
virtues, activities and energy." His thoughts rose higher still; 
men of science could wish for a greater glory than that of con- 

1 By Dr. Smiles. [Trans.l 


tributing to the fame and fortune of their country, they might 
aspire to originating vast benefits to the whole of humanity. 

It was indeed a sad and a sublime spectacle, that of the 
contrast between that ardent, soaring soul and that patient 
helpless body. It was probably when thinking of those 
biographies — some of them too succinct, to his mind, Jenner's 
for instance — that Pasteur wrote: *'From the life of men 
whose passage is marked by a trace of durable light, let us 
piously gather up every word, every incident likely to make 
known the incentives of their great soul, for the education of 
posterity." He looked upon the cult of great men as a great 
principle of national education, and believed that children, as 
soon as they could read, should be made acquainted with the 
heroic or benevolent souls of great men. In his pious patriotism 
he saw a secret of strength and of hope for a nation in its 
reverence for the memories of the great, a sacred and intimate 
bond between the visible and the invisible worlds. His soul 
was deeply religious. During his illness — a time when the 
things of this world assume their real proportions — his mind 
rose far beyond this earth. The Infinite appeared to him as it 
did to Pascal, and with the same rapture ; he was less attracted 
by Pascal, when, proud and disdainful, he exposes man's weak- 
ness for humiliation's sake, than when he declares that "Man 
is produced but for Infinity," and "he finds constant instruc- 
tion in progress." Pasteur believed in material progress as 
well as in moral improvement; he invariably marked in the 
books he was reading — ^Pascal, Nicole and others — those pas- 
sages which were both consoling and exalting. 

In one of his favourite books, Of the Knowledge of God and 
of Self, he much appreciated the passage where Bossuet ascribes 
to human nature "the idea of an infinite wisdom, of an abso- 
lute power, of an infallible rectitude, in one word, the idea 
of perfection." Another phrase in the same book seemed to 
him applicable to experimental method as well as to the conduct 
of life: "The greatest aberration of the mind consists in 
believing a thing because it is desirable." 

With December, joy began to return to the Ecole Normale: 
the laboratory was progressing and seemed an embodiment ef 
renewed hopes of further work. M. Godelier's little bulletins 
now ran: "General condition most satisfactory. Excellent 
morale ; the progress evidenced daily by the return of action in 
the paralysed muscles inspires the patient with great confidence. 

1865—1870 165 

He is planning out his future sericiculture campaign, receives 
many callers without too much fatigue, converses brightly and 
often dictates letters/' 

One visit was a great pleasure to Pasteur — that of the 
Minister, his cordial friend, Duruy, who brought him good 
news of the future of Higher Education. The augmented 
credit which was granted in the 1869 budget would make it 
possible to rebuild other laboratories besides that of the Ecole 
Normale, and also to create in other places new centres of 
study and research. After so many efforts and struggles, it 
was at last possible to foresee the day when chemistry, physics, 
physiology, natural history and mathematics would each have 
an independent department in a great province, which should 
be called the Practical School of Higher Studies. There 
would be no constraint, no hard and fast rules, no curriculum 
but that of free study: young men who were attracted to 
pure science, and others who preferred practical application, 
would find a congenial career before them as well as those 
who desired to give themselves up to teaching. It can well 
be imagined with what delight Pasteur heard these good 

The bulletins continued to be favourable: *' (December 15): 
Progress slow but sure: he has walked from his bed to his 
armchair with some assistance. (December 22) : he has gone 
into the dining-room for dinner, leaning on a chair. (29th) : 
he has walked a few steps without support." 

Pasteur saw in his convalescence but the returning means 
of working, and declared himself ready to start again for the 
neighbourhood of Alais at once, instead of taking the few 
months' rest he was advised to have. 

He urged that, after certain moths and chrysalides, had been 
examined through a microscope, complete certainty would be 
acquired as to the condition of their seed, and that perfect 
seed would therefore become accessible to all tradesmen both 
great and small; would it not be absurd and culpable to let 
reasons of personal health interfere with saving so many poor 
people from ruin? 

His family had to give way, and on January 18, exactly 
three months after his paralytic stroke, he was taken to the 
Gare de Lyon by his wife and daughter and M. Gernez. He 
then travelled, lying on the cushions of a coupe carriage, as far 
as Alaif;', and drove from Alais to St. Hippolyte le Fort, where 


tests were being made on forced silkworms by the agricultural 
society of Le Vigan. 

The house he came into was cold and badly arranged. M. 
Gernez improvised a laboratory, with the assistance of Maillot 
and Raulin, who had followed their master down. From his 
sofa or from his bed, Pasteur directed certain experiments on 
the forced specimens. M. Gernez writes: *'The operations, 
of which we watched the phases through the microscope, fully 
justified his anticipations; and he rejoiced that he had not 
given up tlie game." In the world of the Institute his de- 
parture was blamed by some and praised by others; but 
Pasteur merely considered that one man's life is worthless if 
not useful to others. 

Dumas wrote to him early in February: **My dear friend 
and colleague, — I have been thinking of you so much! I 
dread fatigue for you, and wish I could spare it you, whilst 
hoping that you may successfully achieve your great and 
patriotic undertaking. I have hesitated to write to you for 
fear you should feel obliged to answer. However, I should 
like to have direct news of you, as detailed as possible, and, 
besides that, I should be much obliged if you could send me a 
line to enlighten me on the two following points — 

*'l. When are you going back to Alais? And when will 
your Alais broods be near enough to their time to be most 
interesting to visit? 

*'2. "What should I say to people who beg for healthy seed 
as if my pockets were full of it? I tell them it is too late; 
but if you could tell me a means of satisfying them, I should 
be pleased, particularly in the case of General Randon and 
M. Husson. The Marshal (Vaillant) is full of solicitude for 
you, and we never meet but our whole conversation turns upon 
you. With me, it is natural. With him less so, perhaps, but 
anyhow, he thinks of you as much as is possible, and this gives 
me a great deal of pleasure. . . . Please present to Madame 
Pasteur our united compliments and wishes. We wish the 
South could have the virtues of Achilles' lance — of healing the 
wounds it has caused. — ^Yours affectionately." 

Pasteur was reduced to complete helplessness through hav- 
ing slipped and fallen on the stone floor of his uncomfortable 
house, and was obliged to dictate the following letter — 

^'My dear master, — I thank you for thinking of the poor 
invalid. I am very much in the same condition as when I 

1865—1870 167 

left Paris, my progress having been retarded by a fall on my 
left side. Fortunately, I sustained no fracture, but only 
bruises, which were naturally painful and very slow to dis- 

''There are now no remaining traces of that accident, and 
I am as I was three weeks ago. The improvement in the move- 
ments of the leg and arm appears to have begun again, but 
with excessive slowness. I am about to have recourse to elec- 
tricity, under the advice and instructions of Dr. Godelier, by 
means of a small Ruhmkorff apparatus which he has kindly 
sent me. My brain is still very weak. 

''This is how my days are spent: in the morning my three 
young friends come to see me, and I arrange the day's work. 
I get up at twelve, after having my breakfast in bed, and 
having had the newspaper read to me. If fine, I then spend 
an hour or two in the little garden of this house. Usually, if 
I am feeling pretty well, I dictate to my dear wife a page, 
or more frequently half a page, of a little book I am preparing, 
and in which I intend to give a short account of the whole of 
my observations. Before dinner, which I have alone with my 
wife and my little girl in order to avoid the fatigue of conver- 
sation, my young collaborators bring me a report of their work. 
About seven or half past, I always feel terribly tired and in- 
clined to sleep twelve consecutive hours; but I invariably wake 
at midnight, not to sleep again until towards morning, when 
I doze again for an hour or two. What makes me hope for an 
ultimate cure is the fact that my appetite keeps good, and that 
those short hours of sleep appear to be sufficient. You see that 
on the whole I am doing nothing rash, being moreover rigor- 
ously watched by my wife and little daughter. The latter 
pitilessly takes books, pens, papers and pencils away from me 
with a perseverance which causes me joy and despair. 

"It is becaase I know your affection for your pupils that I 
Venture to give you so many details. I will now answer the 
other questions in your letter. 

"I shall be at Alais from April 1; that will be the time 
when they will begin hatching seed for the industrial cam- 
paign, which will consequently be concluded about May 20 at 
the latest. Seeding will take place during June, more or less 
early according to departments. It is indeed very late to 
obtain seed, especially indigenous seed prepared according to 
my process. I had foreseen that I should receive demands at 


the last moment, and that I should do well to put by a few 
ounces; but, about three weeks ago, our energetic Minister 
wrote to ask me for some seed to distribute to schoolmasters, 
and I promised him what I had. However I will take some 
from his share and send you several lots of five grammes. The 
director of a most interesting Austrian establishment has also 
ordered two ounces, saying he is convinced of the excellence 
of my method. His establishment is a most interesting ex- 
perimental magnanerie, founded in a handsome Illyrian prop- 
erty. Lastly, I have also promised two ounces to M. le 
Comte de Casabianca. One of my young men is going out to 
his place in Corsica to do the seeding. 

*^I was much touched by what you tell me of Marshal 
Vaillant's kind interest in my health, and also by his kind 
thought in informing me of the encouragement given to mT 
studies by the Society of Agriculture. I wish the cultivators 
of your South had a little of his scientific and methodical 

'* Madame Pasteur joins with me in sending you and your 
family, dear master, the expression of my gratitude and affec- 
tionate devotion." 

The normal season for the culture of silkworms was now 
approaching, and Pasteur was impatient to accumulate the 
proofs which would vouch for the safety of his method; this 
had been somewhat doubted by the members of the Lyons 
Silks Commission, who possessed an experimental nursery. 
Most of those gentlemen averred that too much confidence 
should not be placed in the micrographs. ''Our Commis- 
sion," thus ran their report of the preceding year, ''con- 
siders the examination of corpuscles as a useful indication 
which should be consulted, but of which the results cannot 
be presented as a fact from which absolute consequences can 
be deducted." 

"They are absolute," answered Pasteur, who did not admit 
reservations on a point which he considered as invulnerable. 

On March 22, 1869, the Commission asked Pasteur for a 
little guaranteed healthy seed. Pasteur not only sent them 
this, but also sample lots, of which he thus predicted the future 
fate : — 

1. One lot of healthy seed, which would succeed; 

2. One lot of seed, which would perish exclusively from the 
corpuscle disease known as pebrine or gattine ; 

1865—1870 169 

3. One lot of seed, which would perish exclusively from the 
flachery disease; 

4. One lot of seeds, which would perish partly from cor- 
puscle disease and partly from flachery. 

"It seems to me," added Pasteur, *'that the comparison 
between the results of those different lots will do more to 
enlighten the Commission on the certainty of the principles 
I have established than could a mere sample of healthy seed. 

**I desire that this letter should be sent to the Commission 
at its next meeting, and put down in the minutes." 

The Commission accepted with pleasure these unexpected 
surprise boxes. 

About the same time one of his assistants. Maillot, started 
for Corsica at M. de Casablanca's request. He took with him 
six lots of healthy seed to Vescovato, a few miles from Bastia. 

The rest of the colony returned to the Pont Gisquet, near 
Alais, that mulberry-planted retreat, where, according to 
Pasteur, everything was conducive to work. Pasteur now 
looked forward to his definitive victory, and, full of confidence, 
organized his pupils' missions. M. Duclaux, who was coming 
to the Pont Gisquet to watch the normal broods, would after- 
wards go into the Cevennes to verify the seedings made on 
the selection system. M. Gernez was to note the results of 
some seedings made by Pasteur himself the preceding year at 
M. Raibaud-Lange's, at Paillerols, near Digne (Basses Alpes). 
Raulin alone would remain at the Pont Gisquet to study some 
points of detail concerning the flachery disease. So many 
results ought surely to reduce contradictors to silence ! 

My dear friend and colleague," wrote Dumas to Pasteur, 

I need not tell you with what anxiety we are watching the 
progress of your precious health and of your silkworm cam- 
paign. I shall certainly be at Alais at the end of the week, and 
I shall see, under your kind direction, all that may furnish me 
with the means of guiding public opinion. You have quacks 
to fight and en\y to conquer, probably a hopeless task; the 
best is to march right through them, Truth leading the way. 
It is not likely that they will be converted or reduced to 

Whilst these expeditions were being planned, a letter from 
M. Gressier, the Minister of Agriculture, arrived very inoppor- 
tunely. M. Gressier was better versed in suh rosd ministerial 
combinations than in seeding processes, and he asked Pasteur 

< ( 


to examine three lots of seeds sent to Mm by a Mademoiselle 
Amat, of Brives-la-Gaillarde, who was celebrated in the de- 
partment of the Correze for her good management of silk- 
worms. This magnanarelle, having had some successful re- 
sults, was begging his Excellency to accord to those humble 
seeds his particular consideration, and to have them developed 
with every possible care. 

At the same time she was sending samples of the same seeds 
to various places in the Gard, the Bouches du Khone, etc., etc. 

M. Gressier (April 20) asked Pasteur to examine them and 
to give him a detailed report. Pasteur answered four days 
afterwards in terms which were certainly not softened by the 
usual administrative precautions — • 

*' Monsieur le Ministre, . . . these three sorts of seed are 
worthless. If they are developed, even in very small nurseries, 
they will in every instance succumb to corpuscle disease. 1/ 
my seeding process had been employed, it would not have re- 
quired ten minutes to discover that IMademoiselle Amat's 
cocoons, though excellent for spinning purposes, were abso- 
lutely unfit for reproduction. My seeding process gives the 
means of recognizing those broods which are suitable for seed^ 
whilst opposing the production of the infected eggs which year 
by year flood the silkworm cultivating departments. 

*'I shall be much obliged. Monsieur le Ministre, if you will 
kindly inform the Prefect of the Correze of the forecasts which 
I now impart to you, and if you will ask him to report to you 
the results of Mademoiselle Amat's three lots. 

''For my part, I feel so sure of what I now affirm, that I 
shall not even trouble to test, by hatching them, the samples 
which you have sent me. I have thrown them into the 
river. . . .'' 

J. B. Dumas had come to Alais, Messrs. Gernez and 
Duclaux now returned from their expeditions. In two hundred 
broods, each of one or two ounces of seed, coming from three 
different sources and hatched in various localities, not one 
■failure was recorded. The Lyons Commission, which had 
made a note of Pasteur's bold prognosis, found it absolutely 
correct; the excellence of the method was acknowledged by all 
who had conscientiously tried it. Now that the scourge was 
really conquered, Pasteur imagined that all he had to do was 
to set up a table of the results sent to him. But, from the 
south of France and from Corsica, jealousies were beginning 

1865—1870 171 

their Tvork of undermining; pseudo-scientists in their vanity 
proclaimed that everything was illusory that was outside their 
own affirmations, and the seed merchants, willing to ruin 
everybody rather than jeopardize their miserable interests, 
*'did not hesitate (we are quoting M. Gernez) to perpetrate 
the most odious falsehoods." 

Instead of being annoyed, saddened, often indignant as he 
was, Pasteur would have done more wisely to look back upon 
the history of most great discoveries and of the initial difficul- 
ties which beset them. But he could not look upon such things 
philosophically; stupidity astonished him and he could not 
easily bring himself to believe in bad faith. His friends in 
Alais society, M. de Lachadenede, M. Despeyroux, professor 
of chemistry, might have reminded him, in their evening con- 
versations, of the difficulties ever encountered in the service of 
mankind. The prejudice against potatoes, for instance, had 
lasted three hundred years. When they were brought over 
from Peru in the fifteenth century, it was asserted that they 
caused leprosy ; in the seventeenth century, that accusation was 
recognized to be absurd, but it was said that they caused fever. 
One century later, in 1771, the Besancon Academy of Medicine 
having opened a competition for the answer to the following 
question of general interest: '^What plants can be used to 
supplement other foods in times of famine!" a military 
apothecary, named Parmentier, competed and proved victori- 
ously that the potato was quite harmless. After that, he began 
a propagandist campaign in favour of potatoes. But prejudice 
still subsisted in spite of his experimental fields and of the 
dinners in the menu of which potatoes held a large place. 
Louis XVI had then an inspiration worthy of Henry IV; he 
appeared in public, wearing in his buttonhole Parmentier 's 
little mauve flower, and thus glorified it in the eyes of the 
Court and of the crowd. 

But such comparisons had no weight with Pasteur; he was 
henceforth sure of his method and longed to see it adopted, 
unable to understand why there should be further discussions 
now that the silkworm industry was saved and the bread of 
so many poor families assured. He was learning to know all 
the bitterness of sterile polemics, and the obstacles placed one 
by one in the way of those who attempt to give humanity any- 
thing new and useful. Fortunately he had what so many 
men of research have lacked, the active and zealous collabora- 


tion of pupils imbued with his principles, and the rarer and 
priceless blessing of a home life mingling with his laboratory 
life. His wife and his daughter, a mere child, shared his serici 
culture labours; they had become magnanarelles equal to the 
most capable in Alais. Another privilege was the advocacy of 
some champions quite unknown to him. Those who loved 
science and who understood that it would now become, thanks 
to Pasteur, an important factor in agricultural and sericiaul- 
tural matters hailed his achievements with joy. For instance, 
a letter was published on July 8, 1869, in the Journal of Prac- 
tical Agriculture by a cultivator who had obtained excellent 
results by applying Pasteur's method; the letter concluded as 
follows: **We should be obliged, if, through the columns of 
your paper, you would express to M. Pasteur our feelings of 
gratitude for his laborious and valuable researches. We firmly 
hope that he will one day reap the fruit of his arduous labours, 
and be amply compensated for the passionate attacks of which 
he is now the object." 

*' Monsieur Pasteur," once said the Mayor of Alais, Dr. 
Pages, **if what you are showing me becomes verified in 
current practice, nothing can repay you for your work, but the 
town of Alais will raise a golden statue to you." 

Marshal Vaillant began to take more and more interest in 
this question, which was not darkened, in his eyes at least, 
by the dust of polemics. The old soldier, always scrupulously 
punctual at the meetings of the Institute and of the Imperial 
and Central Society of Agriculture, had amused himself by 
organizing a little sill^woiTQ nursery on the Pasteur system, in 
his own study, in the very centre of Paris. These experi- 
ments, in the Imperial palace might have reminded an erudite 
reader of Olivier de Serres' Theatre d' Agriculture of the timo 
when the said Olivier de Serres planted mulberry trees in the 
Tuileries gardens at Henry IV 's request, and when, according 
to the old agricultural writer, a house was arranged at the end 
of the gardens ** accommodated with all things necessary as 
well for the feeding of the worms as for the preparation of 

The Marshal, though calling himself the most modest of 
sericicultors, had been able to appreciate the safety of a method 
which produced the same results in Paris as at the Pont 
Gisquet; the octogenarian veteran dwelt with complacency on 
the splendid condition of his silkworms in all their phases from 

1865—1870 175 

the minute worm hatched from the seed-like egg to the 
splendid cocoon of white or yellow silk. 

It occurred to Vaillant to suggest a decisive experiment in 
favour of Pasteur and of the silkworm industry. The Prince 
Imperial owned in Illyria, about six leagues from Trieste, a 
property called Villa Vicentina. One of Napoleon's sisters, 
Elisa Bonaparte, had lived peacefully there after the fall of the 
first Empire, and had left it to her daughter, Princess Baciocchi, 
who bequeathed it to the Prince Imperial, with the rest of her 
fortune. Vines and mulberry trees grew plentifully on that 
vast domain, but the produce of cocoons was nil, pebrine an(3 
flachery having devastated the place. Marshal Vaillant, 
Minister of the Emperor's Household, desired to render the 
princely property once again productive and, at the same time^ 
to give his colleague of the Institute an opportunity of *'def 
initely silencing the opposition created by ignorance and 
jealousy." In a letter dated October 9, he requested Pasteur 
to send out 900 ounces of seed to Villa Vicentina, a large quan- 
tity, for one ounce produced, on an average, thirty kilogrammes 
of cocoons. Six days later the Marshal wrote to M. Tisserand, 
the director of the Crown agricultural establishments, who 
knew Villa Vicentina: "1 have suggested to the Emperor that 
M. Pasteur should be offered a lodging at Villa Vicentina; the 
Emperor acquiesces in the most gracious manner. Tell me 
whether that is possible." 

M. Tisserand, heartily applauding the Marshal's excellent 
idea, described the domain and the dwelling house. Villa Elisa, 
a white Italian two-storied house, situated amongst lawns and 
trees in a park of sixty hectares. "It would indeed be well," 
continued M. Tisserand, ''that M. Pasteur should find peace, 
rest, and a return of the health he has so valiantly compromised 
in his devotion to his country, in the midst of the lands which 
will be the first to profit by the fruit of his splendid discoveries 
and where his name will be blessed before long.'* 

Pasteur started three weeks later with his family; the long 
journey had to be taken in short stages, the state of his health 
still being very precarious. He stopped at Alais on the way, in 
order to fetch the selected seed, and on November 25, at 9 
p.m., he reached Villa Vicentina. The fifty tenants of th^ 
domain did not suspect that the new arrival would bring back 
with him the prosperity of former years. Raulin, the ''tem- 
porizer," joined his master a few weeks later. 


This was a period not of rest, but of a great calm, with 
regular work under a pure sky. Whilst waiting for hatching 
time, Pasteur continued to dictate to his wife the book he had 
mentioned to J. B. Dumas in a letter from St. Hippolyte le Fort, 
But the projected little book was changing its shape and grow- 
ing into a two-volume work full of facts and documents. It 
was ready to publish by April, 1870. 

When the moment for hatching the seed had arrived, Pasteur 
distributed twenty-five ounces among the tenants and kept 
twenty-five ounces for himself. An incident disturbed these 
days of work: a steward, who had by him an old box of 
Japanese seed, sold this suspicious seed with the rest. The 
idea that confiding peasants had thus been swindled sent 
Pasteur beside himself; in his violent anger he sent for this 
steward, overwhelmed him with reproaches and forbade him 
ever to show his face before him again. 

**The Marshal," wrote Dumas to Pasteur, *'has told me 
of the swindles you have come across and which have upset 
you so much. Do not worry unreasonably; if I were you I 
would merely insert a line in a local paper: *M. Pasteur is 
only answerable for the seeds he himself sells to cultivators.* '* 
Those cultivators soon were duly edified. The results of the 
seeding process were represented by a harvest of cocoons which 
brought in, after all expenses were paid, a profit of 22,000 
francs, the first profit earned by the property for ten years. 
This was indeed an Imperial present from Pasteur; the 
Emperor was amazed and delighted. 

The Government then desired to do for Pasteur what had 
been done for Dumas and Claude Bernard, that is, give him a 
seat in the Senate. His most decided partisan was the com- 
petitor that several political personages suggested against him: 
Henri Sainte Claire Deville. Deville wrote to Mme. Pasteur 
in June: ''You must know that if Pasteur becomes a Senator, 
and Pasteur alone, you understand — for they cannot elect two 
shemists at once! — it will be a triumph for your friend — a 
triumph and an unmixed pleasure." 

The projected decree was one of eighteen then in prepara- 
tion. The final list — the last under the Empire — where Emile 
Augier was to represent French literature was postponed from 
day to day. 

Pasteur left Villa Vicentina on July 6, taking with him the 
gratitude of the people whose good genius he had been for 

1865—1870 175 

nearly eight months. In northern Italy, as well as in Austria, 
his process of cellular seeding was now applied with success. 

Before returning to France he went to Vienna and then to 
Munich: he desired to talk with the German chemist, Liebig, 
the most determined of his adversaries. He thought it im- 
possible that Liebig 's ideas on fermentation should not have 
been shaken and altered in the last thirteen years. Liebig 
could not still be affirming that the presence of decomposing 
animal or vegetable matter should be necessary to fermenta- 
tion ! That theory had been destroyed by a simple and decisive 
experiment of Pasteur's 5 he had sown a trace of yeast in water 
containing but sugar and mineral crystallized salts, and had 
seen this yeast multiply itself and produce a regular alcoholic 

Since all nitrogenized organic matter (constituting the fer- 
ment, according to Liebig) was absent, Pasteur considered that 
he thus proved the life of the ferment and the absence of any 
action from albuminoid matter in a stage of decomposition. 
The death phenomenon now appeared as a Life phenomenon. 
How could Liebig deny the independent existence of ferments 
in their infinite littleness and their power of destroying and 
transforming everything? What did he think of all these new 
ideas? would he still write, as in 1845: "As to the opinion 
which explains putrefaction of animal substances by the 
presence of microscopic animalculse, it may be compared to that 
of a child who would explain the rapidity of the Rhine current 
by attributing it to the violent movement of the numerous mill 
wheels of Mayence?'' 

Since that ingeniously fallacious paragraph, many results had 
come to light. Perhaps Liebig, who in 1851 hailed J. B. 
Dumas as a master, had now come to Dumas' point of view 
respecting the fruitfulness of the Pastorian theory. That theory 
was extended to diseases; the infinitely small appeared as dis- 
organizers of living tissues. The part played by the corpuscles 
in the contagious and hereditary pebrine led to many reflec- 
tions on the contagious and hereditary element of human 
diseases. Even the long-postponed transmission of certain 
diseases was becoming clearer now that, within the vibrio of 
flaehery, other corpuscles were found, germs of the flachery 
disease, ready to break out from one year to another. 

To convince Liebig, to bring him to acknowledge the 
triumph of those ideas with the pleasure of a true savant, such 


was Pasteur's desire wlien he entered Liebig's laboratory. Th% 
tall old man, in a long frock coat, received him with kindly 
courtesy; but when Pasteur, who was eager to come to the 
object of his visit, tried to approach the delicate subject, 
Liebig, without losing his amenity, refused all discussion, 
alleging indisposition. Pasteur did not insist, but promised 
himself that he would return to the charge. 



PASTEUE, on his ret am, spent forty-eight hours in Strashurg, 
which was for him full of memories of his laborious days at the 
Faculty of that town, between 1848 and 1854, at a time when, 
rivalry already existed between France and Germany, a generous 
rivalry of moral and intellectual effort. He then heard for the 
first time of the threatening war; all his hopes of progress 
founded on peace, through scientific discoveries, began tc 
crumble away, and his disappointment was embittered by the 
^recollection of many illusions. 

Never was more cruel rebuff given to the generous efforts of 
* policy of sentiment: after having laid the foundation of the 
independence and unity of Italy, France had sj^mpathized 
with Germany's desire for unity, and few of the counsellors, or 
even the adversaries of the Empire, would not have defended 
this idea, which was supposed to lead to civilization. During 
that period of anxious waiting (beginning of July, 1870), when 
the most alarming news was daily published in Strasburg, it 
did not occur to any one to look back upon quotations from 
papers only a few years old, though in that very town a 
pamphlet might have been found, written by Edmond About 
in 1860, and containing the following words — 

**Let Germany become united! France has no dearer or 
more ardent desire, for she loves the German nation with a 
disinterested friendship. France is not alarmed at seeing the 
formation of an Italian nation of 26,000,000 men in the South : 
she need not fear to see 32,000,000 Germans found a great 
people on the Eastern frontier.*' 

Proud to be first to proclaim the rights of nations ; influenced 
by mingled feelings of kindliness, trustfulness, optimism and a 
certain vanity of disinterestedness, France, who loves to be 

loved, imagined that the world would be grat^^l for her 



international sociability, and that her smiles were sufficient to 
maintain peace and joy in Europe. 

Far from being alarmed by certain symptoms in ber neigh- 
bours, she voluntarily closed her eyes to the manoeuvres of the 
Prussian troops, her ears to the roar of the artillery practice 
constantly heard across her eastern frontier ; in 1863 patrols of 
German cavalry had come as far as Wissemburg. But people 
thought that Germany was *' playing soldiers." Duruy, who 
shared at that time the general delusion, wrote in some 
traveller's notes published in 1864: *'We have had your 
German Rhine, and though you have garnished it with 
bristling fortresses and cannon turning France-wards, we do 
not wish to have it again, . . . for the time for conquests i^ 
past. Conquests shall only now be made with the free consent 
of nations. Too much blood has been poured into the Rhine! 
What an immense people would arise if they who were struck 
down by the sword along its banks could be restored to life!" 

After the thunderclap of Sadowa, the French Government, 
believing, in its infatuation, that it was entitled to a share of 
gratitude and security, asked for the land along the Rhine as 
far as Mayence; this territorial aggrandizement might have 
compensated for Prussia's redoubtable conquests. The refusal 
was not long in coming. The Rhenish provinces immediately 
swarmed with Prussian troops. The Emperor, awaking from 
his dream, hesitating to make war, sent another proposition 
to Prussia: that the Rhenish provinces should become a buffer 
State. The same haughty answer was returned. France then 
hoped for the cession of Luxemburg, a hope all the more 
natural in that the populations of Luxemburg were willing to 
vote for annexation to France, and such a policy would have 
been in accordance with the rights of nations. But this request, 
apparently entertained at first by Prussia, was presently ham- 
pered by intrigues which caused its rejection. Duped, not even 
treated as an arbiter, but merely as a contemptible wit- 
ness, France dazzled herself for a moment with the brilliant 
Exhibition of 1867. But it was a last and splendid 
flash; the word which is the bane of nations and of 
sovereigns, 'Ho-morrow," was on the lips of the ageing Em- 
peror. The reform in the French army, which should have 
been bold and immediate, was postponed and afterwards begun 
jerkily and unmethodically. Prussia however affected to be 
alarmed. Then irritation at having been duped, the evidence 

1870—1872 179 

of a growing peril, a lingering hope in the military fortune of 
France — everything conspired to give an incident, provoked 
by Prussia, the proportions of a casus belli. But, in spite of 
so many grievances, people did not yet believe in this sudden 
return to barbarism. The Imperial policy had indeed been 
blindly inconsistent; after opening a wide prospect of unity 
before the German people it had been thought possible to say 
**No further than the Main," as if the impetuous force of a 
popular movement could be arrested after once being started. 
France suddenly opened her eyes to her danger and to the 
failure of her policy. But if a noble sentiment of generosity 
had been mingled with the desire to increase her territory with- 
out shedding a drop of blood, she had had the honour of being 
in the vanguard of progress. Were great ideas of peace and 
human brotherhood about to be engulfed in a war which would 
throw Europe into an era of violence and brutality? 

Pasteur, profoundly saddened, could not bear to realize that 
his ideal of the peaceful and beneficent destiny of France was 
about to vanish; he left Strasburg — ^never to return to it — a 
prey to the most sombre thoughts. 

When he returned to Paris, he met Sainte Claire Deville, 
who had come back from a scientific mission in Germany, and 
who had for the first time lost his brightness and optimism 
The war appeared to him absolutely disastrous. He had seen 
the Prussian army, redoubtable in its skilful organization^ 
closing along the frontier; the invasion was certain, and there 
was nothing to stay it. Everything was lacking in France, 
even in arsenals like Strasburg. At Toul, on the second line of 
fortifications, so little attention was paid to defence that the 
Government had thought that the place could be used as a 
depot for the infantry and cavalry reserves, who could await 
there the order for crossing the Rhine. 

*'Ah! my lads, my poor lads!" said Sainte Claire Deville to 
his Ecole Normale students, "it is all up with us!" And 
he was seen, between two experiments, wiping his eyes with 
the corner of his laboratory apron. 

The students, with the ordinary confidence of youth, could 
not believe that an invasion should be so imminent. How- 
ever, in spite of the privilege which frees Normaliens from any 
military service in exchange for a ten years' engagement at 
the University, they put patriotic duty above any future 
University appointments, and entered the ranks as private 


soldiers. Those who had been favoured by being immediately 
incorporated in a battalion of chasseurs a pied the depot of 
which was at Vincennes, spent their last evening — their vigil 
as they called it — in the drawing-room of the sub-director o| 
the Ecole, Bertin. Sainte Claire Deville and Pasteur were 
there, also Duruy, whose three sons had enlisted. Pasteur's 
son, aged eighteen, was also on the eve of his departure. 

Every one of the students at the Ecole Normale enlisted, 
some as chasseurs a pied, some in a line regiment, others witlj 
the marines, in the artillery, even with the franc tireurs^ 
Pasteur wished to be enrolled in the garde nationale with Duruy 
and Bertin, but he had to be reminded that a half -paralysed 
man was unfit for service. After the departure of all the 
students, the Ecole Normale fell into the silence of deserted 
houses. M. Bouillier, the director, and Bertin decided to turn 
it into an ambulance, a sort of home for the Normaliens who 
were stationed in various quarters of Paris. 

Pasteur, unable to serve his country except by his scientific 
researches, had the firm intention of continuing his work; but 
he was overwhelmed by the reverses which fell upon France, 
the idea of the bloodshed and of his invaded country oppressed 
^m like a monomania. 

**Do not stay in Paris,*' Bertin said to him, echoed by Dr» 
Godelier. **You have no right to stay; you would be a use- 
'ess mouth during the siege," he added, almost cheerfully, 
earnestly desiring to see his friend out of harm's way. Pasteur 
allowed himself to be persuaded, and started for Arbois on 
September 5, his heart aching for the sorrows of France. 

Some notes and letters enable us to follow him there, in 
the daily detail of his life, amongst his books, his plans of 
future work, and now and then his outbursts of passionate 
grief. He tried to return to the books he loved, to feel over 
again the attraction of *'all that is great and beautiful" to 
quote a favourite phrase. He read at that time Laplace's 
Exposition du Systeme dU Monde, and even copied out some 
fragments, general ideas, concurring with his own. The vision 
of a Galileo or a Newton rising through a series of inductions 
from ** particular phenomena to others more far-reaching, and 
from those to the general laws of Nature," on this earth, 
** itself so small a part of the solar system, and disappearing 
entirely in the immensity of the heavens, of which that system 
i§ but an unimportant corner," — that vision enveloped Pasteur 

1370—1872 181 

with the twofold feeling with which every man must be im- 
bued: humility before the Great Mystery, and admiration for 
those who, revising a corner of the veil, prove that genius is 
divinely inspired. Such reading helped Pasteur through the 
sad time of anxious waiting, and he would repeat as in brighter 
days, ^^Lahoremus." 

But sometimes, when he was sitting quietly with his wife 
and daughter, the trumpet call would sound, with which the 
Arbois crier preceded the proclaiming of news. Then every- 
thing was forgotten, the universal order of things of no account, 
and Pasteur's anguished soul would concentrate itself on that 
imperceptible corner of the universe, France, his suffering 
country. He would go downstairs, mix with groups standing 
on the little bridge across the Cuisance, listen breathlessly to 
the official communication, and sadly go back to the room where 
the memories of his father only emphasized the painful contrast 
with the present time. In the most prominent place hung 
a large medallion of General Bonaparte, by the Franc-Comtois 
Huguenin, the habit of authority visible in the thin energetic 
face; then a larger Qf^gy in bronzed plaster of Napoleon in 
profile, in a very simple uniform; by the mantelpiece a litho- 
graph of the little King of Rome with his curly head; on the 
bookshelves, well within reach, books on the Great Epoch, 
read over and over again by the old soldier who had died in the 
humble room which still reflected some of the Imperial glory. 

That glory, that legend had enveloped the childhood and 
youth of Pasteur, who, as he advanced in life, still preserved 
the same enthusiasm. His imagination pictured the Emperor, 
calm in the midst of battles, or reviewing his troops sur- 
rounded by an escort of field marshals, entering as a sovereign 
a capital not his own, then overwhelmed by numbers at 
Waterloo, and finally condemned to exile and inactivity, and 
dying in a long drawn agony. Glorious or lugubrious, those 
visions came back to him with poignant insistency in those 
days of September, 1870. What was Waterloo compared to 
Sedan! The departure for St. Helena had the grandeur of the 
end of an epic; it seemed almost enviable by the side of that 
last episode of the Second Empire, when Napoleon III, van- 
quished, spared by the death which he wooed, left Sedan by 
the Donchery road to enter the cottage where Bismarck was to 
inform him of the rendezvous given by the King of Prussia. 

The Emperor had now but a shadow of power, having made 


the Empress Regent before lie left Paris; it was therefore not 
the sword of France, but his own, that he was about to sur- 
render. But he thought he might hope that the King of 
Prussia would show clemency to the French army and people, 
having many times declared that he made war on the Emperor 
and not on France. 

**Can it be credited," said Bismarck, speaking afterwards 
of that interview, ''that he actually believed in our gener- 
osity!" The chancellor added, speaking of that somewhat 
protracted tete-d-tete, "I felt as I used to in my youth, when 
my partner in a cotillon was a girl to whom I did not quite 
know what to say, and whom nobody would fetch away for a 

Napoleon III and the King of Prussia met in the Chateau of 
Bellevue, in the neighbourhood of Sedan, opposite a peninsula 
henceforth known by the sad name of ''Camp of Misery." 
The Emperor looked for the last time upon his 83,000 soldiers, 
disarmed, starving, waiting in the mud for the Prussian escort 
which was to convey them as prisoners far beyond the Rhine. 
Wilhelm did not even pronounce the word peace. 

Jules Favre, taking possession on September 6 of the depart- 
ment of Foreign Affairs, recalled to the diplomatic agents the 
fall of the Empire and the words of the King of Prussia; then 
in an unaccustomed outburst of eloquence exclaimed: "Does 
the King of Prussia wish to continue an impious struggle which 
will be as fatal to him as to us? Does he wish to give to the 
world in the nineteenth century the cruel spectacle of two 
nations destroying each other and forgetful of human feelings, 
of reason and of science, heaping up ruin and death? Let him 
then assume the responsibility before the world and before 
posterity!" And then followed the celebrated phrase with 
which he has been violently and iniquitously reproached, and 
which expressed the unanimous sentiment of Francp : "We 
will not concede one inch of our territory nor a stone of our 

Bismarck refused the interview Jules Favre asked of him 
(September 10), under the pretext that the new Government 
was irregular. The enemy was coming nearer and nearer to 
Paris. The French city was resolved to resist ; thousands upon 
thousands of oxen were being corralled in the Bois de Boulogne ; 
poor people from the suburbs were coming to take refuge in the 
city. On the Place de la Concorde, the statue which repre^ 

1870—1872 183 

^ents the city of Strasburg was covered with flowers and flags, 
and seemed to incarnate the idea of the Patrie itself. 

Articles and letters came to Arbois in that early Septem- 
ber, bringing an echo of the sorrows of Paris. Pasteur was 
then reading the works of General Foy, wherein he found 
thoughts in accordance with his own, occasionally copying out 
such passages as the following: ''Right and Might struggle 
for the world; Right, which constitutes and preserves Society; 
Might, which overcomes nations and bleeds them to death/* 

General Foy fought for France during twenty-five years, 
and, writing in 1820, recalled with a patriotic shudder the 
horrors of foreign invasions. Long after peace was signed, by 
a chance meeting in a street in Paris, General Foy found 
himself face to face with Wellington. The sight was so odious 
to him that he spoke of this meeting in the Chamhre with an 
accent of sorrowful humiliation which breathed the sadness of 
Waterloo over the whole assembly. Pasteur could well under- 
stand the long continued vibration of that suffering chord, he, 
who never afterwards could speak without a thrill of sorrow of 
that war which Germany, in defiance of humanity, was inexcus- 
ably pursuing. 

It was the fourth time in less than a hundred years that a 
Prussian invasion overflowed into France. But instead of 
42,000 Prussians, scattered in 1792 over the sacred soil of the 
Patrie — Pasteur pronounced the word with the faith and ten- 
derness of a true son of France — there were now 518,000 men 
to fight 285,000 French. 

The thought that they had been armed in secret for the 
conquest of neighbouring lands, the memory of France's 
optimism until that diplomatic incident, invented so that 
France might stumble over it, and the inaction of Europe, 
inspired Pasteur with reflections which he confided to his 
pupil Raulin. ''What folly, what blindness,*' he wrote 
(September 17), "there are in the inertia of Austria, Russia, 
England! What ignorance in our army leaders of the 
respective forces of the two nations ! We savants were in- 
deed right when we deplored the poverty of the department of 
Public Instruction! The real cause of our misfortunes lies 
there. It is not with impunity — as it will one day be recognized, 
too late — that a great nation is allowed to lose its intellectual 
standard. But, as you say, if we rise again from those disas- 
ters, we shall again see our statesmen lose themselves in endless 


discussions on forms of government and abstract political ques- 
tions instead of going to the root of the matter. We are paying 
the penalty of fifty years' forgetfulness of science, of its con- 
ditions of development, of its immense influence on the destiny 
of a great people, and of all that might have assisted the 
diffusion of light. ... I cannot go on, all this hurts me. I 
try to put away all such memories, and also the sight of our 
terrible distress, in which it seems that a desperate resistance 
is the only hope we have left. I wish that France may fight to 
her last man, to her last fortress. I wish that the war may 
be prolonged until the winter, when, the elements aiding us, 
all these Vandals may perish of cold and distress. Every one 
of my future works will bear on its title page the words: 
'Hatred to Prussia. Revenge! revenge!' " 

There is a passage in the Psalms where the captives of 
Israel, led to Babylonian rivers, weep at the memory of 
Jerusalem. After swearing never to forget their country, they 
wish their enemies every misfortune, and hurl this last impre- 
cation at Babylon; ''Blessed shall he be that taketh thy 
children and throweth them against the stones. ' ' ^ One of the 
most Christlike souls of our time, Henri Perreyve, speaking 
of Poland, of vanquished and oppressed nations, quoted this 
Psalm and exclaimed: "0 Anger, man's Anger, how difficult 
it is to drive thee out of man's heart! and how irresistible are 
the flames kindled by the insolence of injustice!" Those 
flames were kindled in the soul of Pasteur, full as it was of 
human tenderness, and they burst out in that sobbing cry of 

On that 17th of September, the day before Paris was invested, 
Jules Favre made another attempt to obtain peace. He pub- 
lished an account of that interview which took place at the 
Chateau of Ferrieres, near Meaux ; this printed account reached 
every town in France, and was read with grief and anger. 

Jules Favre had deluded himself into thinking that vic- 
torious Prussia would limit its demands to a war indemnity, 
probably a formidable one. But Bismarck, besides the in- 
demnity, intended to take a portion of French soil, and claimed 
Strasburg first of all. "It is the key of the house; I must 
have it." And with Strasburg he wanted the whole Depart- 
ment of the naut-RJiinf that of the Bas-Rhin, Metz, and a 
part of the Department of Moselle. Jules Favre, character* 

1 Pg. cxxxvii. 9. 

1870—1872 185 

istically French, exhausted his eloquence in putting sentiment 
into politics, spoke of European rights, of the right of the 
people to dispose of themselves, tried to bring out the fact that 
a brutal annexation was in direct opposition to the progress of 
civilization. ^'I know very well,'' said Bismarck, ''that they 
{meaning the Alsatians and Lorrainers) do not want us; they 
will give us a deal of trouble, but we must annex them." In 
the event of a future war Prussia was to have the advantage. 
All this was said with an authoritative courtesy, an insolent 
tranquillity, through which contempt for men was visible, evi- 
dently the best means of governing them in Bismarck's eyes. 
As Jules Fa\Te was pleading the cause of heroic Strasburg, 
whose long resistance was the admiration of Paris, ''Strasburg 
will now fall into our hands," said Bismarck coldly; "it is 
but a question for engineers; therefore I request that the 
garrison should surrender as prisoners of war." 

Jules Favre "leapt in his grief" — the words are his — but 
King "Wilhelm exacted this condition. Jules Favre, almost 
breaking down, turning away to hide the tears that welled into 
his eyes, ended the interview with these words : "It is an inde- 
finite struggle between two nations who should go hand in hand. ' * 

Traces of this patriotic anguish are to be found in one of 
Pasteur's notebooks, as well as a circular addressed by Jules 
Favre to the diplomatic representatives in answer to certain 
points disputed by Bismarck. Pasteur admiringly took note 
of the following passage: "I know not what destinies Fate 
has in store for us. But I do feel most deeply that if I had to 
choose between the present situation of France and that of 
Prussia, I should decide for the former. Better far our suffer- 
ings, our perils, our sacrifices, than the cruel and inflexible 
ambition of our foe." 

"We must preserve hope until the end," wrote Pasteur 
after reading the above, "say nothing to discourage each other, 
and wish ardently for a prolonged struggle. Let us think of 
hopeful things; Bazaine may save us." . . . How many 
French hearts were sharing that hope at the very time when 
Bazaine was preparing to betray Metz, his troops and his flag! 

"Should we not cry: 'Happy are the dead!' " wrote Pasteur 
a few days after the news burst upon France of that army lost 
without being allowed to fight, of that city of Metz, the 
strongest in France, surrendered without a struggle! 

Through all Pasteur's anxieties about the war, certain obsers 


vations, certain projected experiments resounded in his mind 
like the hours that a clock strikes, unheeded but not unheard, 
in a house visited by death. He could not put them away from 
him, they were part of his very life. 

Any sort of laboratory work was difficult for him in tlie 
tanner's house, which had remained the joint property of him- 
self and his sister. His brother-in-law had continued Joseph 
Pasteur's trade. Pasteur applied his spirit of observation to 
everything around him, and took the opportunity of studying 
the fermentation of tan. He would ask endless questions, 
trying to discover the scientific reason of every process and 
every routine. Whilst his sister was making bread he would 
study the raising of the crust, the influence of air in the knead- 
ing of the dough, and his imagination rising as usual from a 
minor point to the greatest problems, he began to seek for a 
means of increasing the nutritive powers of bread, and con- 
sequently of lowering its price. 

The Salut Puhlic of December 20 contained a notice on that 
very subject, which Pasteur transcribed. The Central Com- 
mission of Hygiene which included among its members Sainte 
Claire Deville, Wurtz, Bouchardat and Trelat, had tried, when 
dealing with this question of bread (a vital one during the 
siege), to prove to the Parisians that bread is the more whole- 
some for containing a little bran. *'With what emotion," 
wrote Pasteur, *'I have just read all those names dear to 
science, greater now before their fellow-citizens and before 
posterity. Why could I not share their sufferings and 
their dangers!'* He would have added "and their work'* 
if some of the Academic des Sciences reports had reached him. 

The history of the Academy during the war is worthy of 
brief mention. Moreover it was too deeply interesting to 
Pasteur, too constantly in his thoughts, not to be considered 
as forming part of his biography. 

During the first period, the Academy, imagining, like the 
rest of France, that there was no doubt of a favourable issue 
of the war, continued its purely scientific task. When the 
first defeats were announced, the habitual communications 
ceased, and the Academy, unable to think of anything but the 
war, held sittings of three-quarters of an hour or even less. 

One of the correspondents of the Institute, the surgeon 
Sedillot, who was in Alsace at the head of an ambulance corps, 
and who himself performed as many as fifteen amputations in 

1870—1872 187 

one day, addressed two noteworthy letters to the President of 
the Academy. Those letters mark a date in the history of 
surgery, and show how restricted was then in France the 
share of some of Pasteur's ideas at the very time when in 
other countries they were adopted and followed. Lister, the 
celebrated English surgeon, having, he said, meditated on 
Pasteur's theory of germs, and proclaimed himself his fol- 
lower, convinced that complications and infection of wounds 
were caused by their giving access to living organisms and in- 
fectious germs, elements of trouble, often of death, had already 
in 1867 inaugurated a method of treatment. He attempted the 
destruction of germs floating in air by means of a vaporizer 
filled with a carbolic solution, then isolated and preserved the 
wound from the contact of the air. Sponges, drainage tubes, 
etc., were subjected to minute precautions; in one word, he 
created antisepsis. Four months before the war he had pro- 
pounded the principles which should guide surgeons, but it 
occurred to no one in France, in the first battles, to apply the 
new method. *'The horrible mortality amongst the wounded 
in battle," writes Sedillot, ''calls for the attention of all the 
friends of science and humanity. The surgeon's art, hesitat- 
ing and disconcerted, pursues a doctrine whose rules seem to 
flee before research. . . . Places where there are wounded are 
recognizable by the fetor of suppuration and gangrene.^* 

Hundreds and thousands of wounded, their faces pale, but 
full of hope and desire to live, succumbed between the eighth 
and tenth day to gangrene and erysipelas. Those failures 
of the surgery of the past are plain to us now that the doctrine 
of germs has explained everything; but, at that time, such an 
avowal of impotence before the mysterious contagium sui 
generis, which, the doctors averred, eluded all research, and 
such awful statistics of mortality embittered the anguish of 

The Academy then attempted to take a share in the national 
co-operation by making a special study of any subject which 
interested the public health and defence. A sitting on methods 
of steering balloons was succeeded by another on various means 
of preserving meat during the siege. Then came an anxious 
inquiry into modes of alimentation of infants. At the end of 
October there were but 20,000 litres of milk per day to be pro- 
cured in the whole of Paris, and the healthy were implored to 
abst-ain from it. It was a question of life and death for young 


children, and already many little coffins were daily to be seen 
on the road to the cemetery. 

Thus visions of death amongst soldiers in their prime and 
children in their infancy hung over the Academy meeting hall. 
It was at one of those mournful sittings, on a dark autumn 
afternoon, that Chevreul, an octogenarian member of the Insti> 
tute, who, like Pasteur, had believed in civilization and in the 
binding together of nations through science, art and letters, 
looking at the sacks of earth piled outside the windows to save 
the library from the bursting shells, exclaimed in loud desolate 
tones — ■ 

*'And yet we are in the nineteenth century, and a few 
months ago the French did not even think of a war which 
has put their capital into a state of siege and traced around its 
walls a desert zone where he who sowed does not reap ! And 
there are public universities where they teach the Beautiful, 
the True, and the Right." 

** Might goes before Right," Bismarck said. A German 
journalist invented another phrase which went the round of 
Europe: '*the psychological moment for bombardment." On 
January 5, one of the first Prussian shells sank into the garden 
of the Ecole Normale; another burst in the very ambulance 
of the Ecole. Bertin, the sub-director, rushed through the 
suffocating smoke and ascertained that none of the patients was 
hurt ; he found the breech between two beds. The miserable 
patients dragged themselves doTsmstairs to the lecture rooms 
on the ground floor, not a much safer refuge. 

From the heights of Chatillon the enemy's batteries were 
bombarding all the left bank of the Seine, the Prussians, re- 
gardless of the white flags bearing the red cross of Geneva, were 
aiming at the Val-de-Grace and the Pantheon. ** Where is 
the Germany of our dreams?" wrote Paul de St. Victor on 
January 9, ''the Germany of the poets? Between her and 
France an abyss of hatred has opened, a Rhine of blood and 
tears that no peace can ever bridge over." 

On that same date, Chevreul read the following declaration 
to the Academy of Science — 

The Garden of Medicinal Plants, founded in Paris 

by an edict of King Louis XIII, 

dated January, 1626, 

Converted into the IMuseum of Natural History 

1870—1872 189 

by a decree of the Convention on June 10, 1793, 

was Bombarded, 

under the reign of Wilhelm I King of 

Prussia, Count von Bismarck, Chancellor, 

by the Prussian army, during the night 

of January 8-9, 1871. 

It had until then been respected by all parties 

and all powers, national or 


Pasteur, on reading this protest, regretted more than ever 
that he had not been there to sign it. It then occurred to him 
that he too might give vent to the proud plaint of the van- 
quished from his little house at Arbois. He remembered with 
a sudden bitterness the diploma he had received from the Uni- 
versity of Bonn. Many years had passed since the time in 
the First Empire when one of the 110 French Departments had 
been that of Rhine and Moselle, with Coblentz as its prefecture 
and Bonn and Zimmern as sous-prefectures. When, in 1815, 
Prussia's iron hand seized again those Rhenish provinces which 
had become so French at heart, the Prussian king and his 
ministers hit upon the highly politic idea of founding a Univer- 
sity on the picturesque banks of the Rhine, thus morally con- 
quering the people after reducing them by force. That 
University had been a great success and had become most 
prosperous. The Strasburg Faculty under the Second Empire, 
with its few professors and its general penury, seemed very 
poor compared to the Bonn University, with its fifty-three 
professors and its vast laboratories of chemistry, physics and 
medicine, and even a museum of antiquities. Pasteur and 
Duruy had often exchanged remarks on that subject. But that 
rivalry between the two Faculties was of a noble nature, ani- 
mated as it was by the great feeling that science is superior to 
national distinctions. King Wilhelm had once said, ''Prussia's 
conquests must be of the moral kind,'' and Pasteur had rot 
thought of any other conquests. 

When in 1868 the University of Bonn conferred upon him 
the diploma of Doctor of Medicine, saying that ''by his very 
penetrating experiments, he had much contributed to the know- 
ledge of tlie history of the generation of micro-organisms, and 
had happily advanced the progress of the science of fermenta- 
tions,'' he had been much pleased at this ai?kiiowledgment of 


the future opened to medical studies by his work, and he was 
proud to show the Degree he had received. 

''Now," he wrote (January 18, 1871), to the Head of the 
Faculty of Medicine, after recalling his former sentiments, 
"now the sight of that parchment is odious to me, and I feel 
offended at seeing my name, with the qualification of Virum 
clarissimum that you have given it, placed under a name whicb 
is henceforth an object of execration to my country, that of 
Uex Gidielmus. 

"AYhile higlil}^ asseverating my profound respect for you, 
Sir, and for the celebrated professors who have affixed their 
signatures to the decision of the members of your Order, I 
am called upon by my conscience to ask you to efface my 
name from the archives of your Faculty, and to take back 
that diploma, as a sign of the indignation inspired in a French 
scientist by the barbarity and hypocrisy of him who, in order 
to satisfy his criminal pride, persists in the massacre of two 
great nations." Pasteur's protest ended with these words — 

"Written at Arbois (Jura) on January 18, 1871, after read- 
ing the mark of infamy inscribed on the forehead of your King 
by the illustrious director of the Museum of Natural History 
M. Chevreul." 

"This letter will not have much weight with a people whose 
principles differ so totally from those that inspire us," said 
Pasteur, "but it will at least echo the indignation of French 
scientists. ' * 

He made a collection of stories, of episodes, and letters, 
which fell in his way; amongst other things, we find an open 
letter from General Chanzy to the commandant of the Pl-ussian 
troops at Vendome, denouncing the insults, outrages, and in- 
excusable violence of the Prussians towards the inhabitants of 
St. Calais, who had shown great kindness to the enemy's sick 
and wounded. 

"You respond by insolence, destruction and pillage to the 
generosity with which we treat your prisoners and wounded. 
I indignantly protest, in the name of humanity and of the 
rights of men, which you trample under foot." 

Pasteur also gathered up tales of bravery, of heroism, and of 
resignation — that form of heroism so often illustrated by women 
— during the terrible siege of Paris. And, from all those things, 
arose the psychology of war in its two aspects : in the invading 
army a spirit of conauest carried to oppression, and even apart 

1870—1872 191 

from the thrilling moments of battle, giviag to hatred and 
cruelty a cold-blooded sanction of discipline; in the vanquished 
nation, an irrepressible revolt, an intoxication of sacrifice. 
Those who have not seen war do not know what love of the 
mother country means. 

France was the more loved that she was more oppressed*, 
she inspired her true sons with an infinite tenderness. SuUy- 
Prudhomme, the poet of pensive youth, renouncing his love for 
Humanity in general, promised himself that he would hence- 
forth devote his life to the exclusive love of France. A greater 
poet than he, Victor Hugo, wrote at that time the first part 
of his Annee Terrible, with its mingled devotion and despair. 

The death of Henri Regnault was one of the sad episodes of 
the war. This brilliant young painter — he was only twenty- 
seven years of age — enlisted as a garde nationale, though 
exempt by law from any military service through being a 
laureate of the prix de Rome} He did his duty valiantly, and 
on January 19, at the last sortie attempted by the Parisians, at 
Buzenval, the last Prussian shot struck him in the forehead. 
The xicademie des Sciences, at its sitting of January 23, ren- 
dered homage to him whose coffin enclosed such dazzling 
propects and some of the glory of France. The very heart of 
Paris was touched, and a great sadness was felt at the funeral 
procession of the great artist who seemed an ideal type of aU 
the youth and talent so heroically sacrificed — and all in vain — 
for the surrender of Paris had just been officially announced. 

Regnault 's father, the celebrated physicist, a member of the 
Institute, was at Geneva when he received this terrible blow. 
Another grief — not however compcirable to the despair of a 
bereaved parent — befell him — an instance of the odious side of 
war, not in its horrors, its pools of blood and burnt dwellings, 
but in its premeditated cruelty. Regnault had left his labora- 
tory utensils in his rooms at the Sevres porcelain manufactory, 
of which he was the manager. Everything was apparently 
left in the same place, not a window was broken, no locks 
forced; but a Prussian, evidently an expert, had been there. 
^'Nothing seemed changed," writes J. B. Dumas, *'in that 
abode of science, and yet everything was destroyed; the glass 
tubes of barometers, thermometers, etc., were broken; scales 

1 Pri^ de Rome. A competition takes place every year amongst the 
students of the Ecole des Beaux Arts for this prize; the successful com- 
petitor is sent to Rome for a year at the expense of the Ecole. [Trans.] 


and other similar instruments had been carefully knocked out of 
shape with a hammer. " In a corner was a heap of ashes ; they 
were the registers, notes, manuscripts, all R^gnault's work of 
the last ten years. *^Such cruelty," exclaimed J. B. Dumas, 
*'is unexampled in history. The Roman soldier who butchered 
Archimedes in the heat of the onslaught may be excused — he 
did not know him; but with what sacrilegious meanness could 
such a work of destruction as this be accomplished ! ! ! ' * 

On the very day when the Academic des Sciences was con- 
doling with Henri Regnault's sorrowing father, Pasteur, 
anxious at having had no news of his son, who had been fight- 
ing before Hericourt, determined to go and look for him in the 
ranks of the Eastern Army Corps. By Poligny and Lons-lC' 
Saulnier, the roads were full of stragglers from the various 
regiments left several days behind, their route completely lost, 
who begged for bread as they marched, barely covered by the 
tattered remnants of their uniforms. The main body of the 
army was on the way to BesanQon, a sad procession of French 
soldiers, hanging their heads under the cold grey sky and tramp* 
ing painfully in the snow. 

Bourbaki, the general-in-chief, a hero of African battlefields, 
was becoming more and more unnerved by the combinations 
of this war. Whilst the Minister, in a dispatch from Bordeaux, 
had ordered him to move back towards Dole, to prevent the 
taking of Dijon, then to hurry to Nevers or Joigny, where 
20,000 men would be ready to be incorporated, Bourbaki, over- 
whelmed by the lamentable spectacle under his eyes, could see 
no resource for his corps but a last line of retreat, Pontarlier. 

It was among that stream of soldiers that Pasteur attempted 
to find his son. His old friend and neighbour, Jules Yercel, 
saw him start, accompanied by his wife and daughter, on Tues- 
day, Januarj^ 24, in a half broken down old carriage, the last 
that was left in the town. After journejang for some hours 
in the snow, the sad travellers spent the night in a little way- 
side inn near Montrond; the old carriage with its freight of 
travelling boxes stood on the roadside like a gipsy's caravan. 
The next morning they went on through a pine forest where the 
deep silence was unbroken save by the falling masses of snow 
from the spreading branches. They slept at Censeau, the next 
day at Chaffois, and it was only on the Friday that they reached 
Pontarlier, by roads made almost impracticable by the snow, 
the carriage now a mere wreck. 

1870—1872 193 

The town was full of soldiers, some crouching round fires in 
the street, others stepping across their dead horses and begging 
for a little straw to lie on. Many had taken refuge in the 
church and were lying on the steps of the altar; a few were 
attempting to bandage their frozen feet, threatened with 

Suddenly the news spread that the general-in-chief, Bour- 
baki, had shot himself through the brain. This did not excite 
much surprise. He had telegraphed two days before to the 
Minister of War: *'You cannot have an idea of the sufferings 
that the army has endured since the beginning of December. 
It is martyrdom to be in command at such a time," he added 

*'The retreat from Moscow cannot have been worse than 
this," said Pasteur to a staff officer. Commandant Bourboulon, 
a nephew of Sainte Claire Deville, whom he met in the midst 
of those horrors and who could give him no information as to 
his son's battalion of Chasseurs. ''AH that I can tell you," 
said a soldier anxiously questioned by Mme. Pasteur, "is that 
out of the 1,200 men of that battalion there are but 300 left." 
As she was questioning another, a soldier who was passing 
stopped: ''Sergeant Pasteur? Yes, he is alive; I slept by him 
last night at Chaffois. He has remained behind ; he is ill. You 
might meet him on the road towards Chaffois." 

The Pasteurs started again on the road followed the day 
before. They had barely passed the Pontarlier gate when a 
rough cart came by. A soldier muffled in his great coat, his 
hands resting on the edge of the cart, started with surprise. 
He hurried down, and the family embraced without a word, so 
great was their emotion. 

The capitulation of starving Paris and the proposed armistice 
are historical events still present in the memory of men who 
were then beginning to learn the meaning of defeat. The 
armistice, which Jules Favre thought would be applied with- 
out restriction to all the army corps, was interpreted by Bis- 
marck in a peculiar way. He and Jules Favre between them 
had drawn up a protocol in general terms; it had been under- 
stood in those preliminary confabulations that, before drawing 
up the limits of the neutral zone applicable to the Eastern Army 
Corps, some missing information would be awaited, the respec- 
tive positions of the belligerents being unknown. The in- 
formation did not come, and Jules Favre in his imprudent 


trustfulness supposed that delimitation would be done on the 
spot by the officers in command. When he heard tnat the 
Prussian troops were continuing their march eastwards, he com- 
plained to Bismarck, who answered that ''the incident cannot 
have compromised the Eastern Army Corps, as it already was 
completely routed when the armistice was signed.'^ This cal- 
culated reserve on Bismarck's part was eminently character- 
istic of his moral physiognomy, and this encounter between the 
two Ministers proved once again the inferiority — when great 
interests are at stake — of emotional men to hard-hearted business 
men; however it must be acknowledged that Bismarck's state- 
ment was founded on fact. The Eastern Corps could have 
fought no more; its way was blocked. Without food, without 
clothes, in many cases without arms, nothing remained to the 
unfortunate soldiers but the refuge offered by Switzerland. 

Pasteur went to Geneva with his son, who, after recovering 
from the illness caused by fatigue and privation, succeeded in 
getting back to France to rejoin his regiment in the early days 
of February. Pasteur then went on to Lyons and stayed there 
with his brother-in-law, M. Loir, Dean of the Lyons Faculty 
of Science. He intended to go back to Paris, but a letter from 
Bertin dated February 18 advised him to wait. **This is the 
present state of the Ecole: south wing: pulled down; will be 
built up again; workmen expected. Third year dormitory: 
ambulance occupied by eight students. Science dormitory and 
drawing classroom : ambulance again, forty patients. Ground 
floor classroom: 120 artillery -men. Pasteur laboratory: 210 
gardes nationaux, refugees from Issy. You had better wait." 
Bertin added, with his indomitable good humour, speaking of 
the bombardment: **The first day I did not go out, but I took 
my bearings and found the formula : in leaving the school, walk 
close along the houses on my left; on coming back, keep close 
to them on my right; with that I went out as usual. The 
population of Paris has shown magnificent resignation and 
patience. ... In order to have our revenge, everything will 
have to be rebuilt from the top to the bottom, the top 

Pasteur also thought that reforms should begin from the top. 
He prepared a paper dated from Lyons, and entitled *'Why 
France found no superior men in the hours of peril." Amongst 
the mistakes committed, one in particular had been before his 
mind for twenty years, ever since he left the Ecole Normale: 

1870—1872 195 

*'The forgetfulness, disdain even, that France had had for 
great intellectual men, especially in the realm of exact science.'* 
This seemed the more sad to him that things had been very 
different at the end of the eighteenth century. Pasteur enu- 
merated the services rendered by science to his threatened 
country. If in 1792 France was able to face danger on all 
sides, it was because Lavoisier, Fourcroy, Guyton de Morveau, 
Chaptal, Berthollet, etc., discovered new means of extracting 
saltpetre and manufacturing gunpowder; because Monge found 
a method of founding cannon with great rapidity ; and because 
the chemist Clouet invented a quick system of manufacturing 
steel. Science, in the service of patriotism, made a victorious 
army of a perturbed nation. If Marat, with his slanderous 
and injurious insinuations, had not turned from their course the 
feelings of the mob, Lavoisier never would have perished on the 
scaffold. The day after his execution, Lagrange said: *'One 
moment was enough for his head to faU, and 200 years may 
not suffice to produce such another." Monge and Berthollet, 
also denounced by Marat, nearly shared the same fate: **In 
a week's time we sliall be arrested, tried, condemned and 
executed," said Berthollet placidly to Monge, who answered 
with equal composure, thinking only of the country's defence, 
**A11 I know is that my gun factories are working admirably." 

Bonaparte, from the first, made of science what he would 
have made of everj^thing — a means of reigning. When he 
started for Egypt, he desired to have with him a staff of 
scientists, and Monge and Berthollet undertook to organize 
vhat distinguished company. Later, when Bonaparte became 
Napoleon I, he showed, in the intervals between his wars, so 
much respect for the place due to science as to proclaim the 
effacement of national rivalry when scientific discoveries were 
in question. Pasteur, when studying this side of the Imperial 
character, found in some pages by Arago on Monge that, after 
Waterloo, Napoleon, in a conversation he had with Monge at 
the Elysee, said, *' Condemned now to command armies no 
longer, I can see but Science with which to occupy my mind 
and my soul ..." 

Alluding to the scientific supremacy of France during the 
early part of the nineteenth centurj^, Pasteur wrote: *^A11 
the other nations acknowledged our superiority, though each 
could take pride in some great men: Berzelius in Sweden, 
Davy in England, Volta in Italy, other eminent men in Ger- 


many and Switzerland ; but in no country were they as numer- 
ous as in France ..." He added these regretful lines: **A 
victim of her political instability, France has done nothing to 
keep up, to propagate and to develop the progress of science 
in our country ; she has merely obeyed a given impulse ; she has 
lived on her past, thinking herself great by the scientific dis- 
coveries to which she owed her material prosperity, but not per- 
ceiving that she was imprudently allowing the sources of those 
discoveries to become drj^, whilst neighbouring nations, stimu- 
lated by her past example, were diverting for their own benefit 
the course of those springs, rendering them fruitful by their 
works, their efforts and their sacrifices. 

** "Whilst Germany was multiplying her universities, estab- 
lishing between them the most salutary emulation, bestowing 
honours and consideration on the masters and doctors, creating 
vast laboratories amply supplied with the most perfect instru- 
ments, France, enervated by revolutions, ever vainly seeking 
for the best form of government, was giving but careless atten- 
tion to her establishments for higher education . . . 

**The cultivation of science in its highest expression is 
perhaps even more necessary to the moral condition than to the 
material prosperity of a nation. 

''Great discoveries — the manifestations of thought in Art, 
in Science and in Letters, in a word the disinterested exercise 
of the mind in every direction and the centres of instruction 
from which it radiates, introduce into the whole of Society that 
philosophical or scientific spirit, that spirit of discernment, 
which submits everything to severe reasoning, condemns 
ignorance and scatters errors and prejudices. They raise the 
intellectual level and the moral sense, and through them the 
Divine idea itself is spread abroad and intensified." 

At the very time when Pasteur was preoccupied with the 
desire of directing the public mind towards the principles of 
truth, justice and sovereign harmony, Sainte Claire Deville, 
speaking of the Academy, expressed similar ideas, proclaim- 
ing that France had been vanquished by science and that it was 
now time to free scientific bodies from the tyranny of red tape. 
Why should not the Academy become the centre of all measures 
relating to science, independently of government offices or 
officials ? 

J. B. Dumas took part in the discussion opened by Sainte 
Claire Deville^ and agreed with his suggestions. He might 

1870—1872 197 

have said more, however, on a subject which he often took 
up in private: the utility of pure science in daily experience. 
With his own special gift of generalization, he could have ex- 
pounded the progress of all kinds due to the workers who, by 
their perseverance in resolving difficult problems, have brought 
about so many precious and unexpected results. Few men in 
France realized at that time that laboratories could be the 
vestibule of farms, factories, etc.; it was indeed a noble task, 
that of proving that science was intended to lighten the burden 
of humanity, not merely to be applied to devastation, carnage, 
and hatred. 

Pasteur was in the midst of these philosophical reflections 
when he received the following answer from the principal of 
the Faculty of Medicine of Bonn: 

*'Sir, the undersigned, now Principal of the Faculty of 
"Medicine of Bonn, is requested to answer the insult which you 
have dared to offer to the German nation in the sacred person 
of its august Emperor, King Wilhelm of Prussia, by sending 
you the expression of its entire contempt.** — Dr. .^Maurice 

"P.S. — Desiring to keep its papers free from taint, the 
Faculty herewith returns your screed. '^ 

Pasteur's reply contained the following: **I have the honour 
of informing you, Mr. Principal, that there are times when 
the expression of contempt in a Prussian mouth is equivalent 
for a true Frenchman to that of Virum clarissimum which you 
once publicly conferred upon me.'^ 

After invoking in favour of Alsace-Lorraine, Truth, of 
Justice, and the laws of humanity, Pasteur added in a post- 
script — 

''And now, Mr. Principal, after reading over both your 
letter and mine, I sorrow in my heart to think that men who 
like yourself and myself have spent a lifetime in the pursuit of 
truth and progress, should address each other in such a fashion, 
founded on my part on such actions. This is but one of the 
results of the character j^our Emperor has given to this war. 
You speak to me of taint. Mr. Principal, taint will rest, you 
may be assured, until far-distant ages, on the memory of those 
who began the bombardment of Paris when capitulation by 
famine was inevitable, and who continued this act of savagery 
after it had become evident to all men that it would not advance 
b(y one hour the surrender of the heroic city.'' 


Whilst Pasteur thus felt those simple and strong impressions 
as a soldier or the man in the street might do, the creative 
power of his nature was urging him to great and useful achieve- 
ments. He wrote from Lyons in March to M. Duclaux — 

*'My head is full of splendid projects; the war sent my 
brain to grass, but I now feel ready for further work. Per- 
haps I am deluding myself; anj^how I will try. ... Oh! why 
am I not rich, a millionaire? I would say to you, to Raulin, 
to Gernez, to Van Tieghem, etc., come, we will transform the 
world by our discoveries. How fortunate you are to be young 
and strong! Why can I not begin a new life of study and 
work! Unhappy France, beloved country, if I could only 
assist in raising thee from thy disasters ! ' ' 

A few days later, in a letter to Raulin, this desire for devoted 
work was again expressed almost feverishly. He could fore- 
see, in the dim distance, secret affinities between apparently 
dissimilar things. He had at that time returned to the re- 
searches which had absorbed his youth (because those studies 
were less materially difficult to organize), and he could perceive 
laws and connections between the facts he had observed and 
those of the existence of which he felt assured. 

*'l have begun here some experiments in crystallization 
which will open a great prospect if they should lead to positive 
results. You know that I believe that there is a cosmic dis- 
symmetric influence which presides constantly and naturally 
over the molecular organization of principles immediately essen- 
tial to life; and that, in consequence of this, the species of the 
three kingdoms, by their structure, by their form, by the dis- 
position of their tissues, have a definite relation to the move- 
ments of the universe. For many of those species, if not for 
all, the sun is the primuni movens of nutrition ; but I believe in 
another influence which would affect the whole organization, 
for it would be the cause of the molecular dissymmetry proper 
to the chemical components of life. I want to be able by ex- 
periment to grasp a few indications as to the nature of this 
great cosmic dissymmetrical influence. It must, it may be 
electricity, magnetism. . . . And, as one should always proceed 
from the simple to the complex, I am now trying to crystallize 
double racemate of soda and ammonia under the influence of a 
spiral solenoid. 

**I have various other forms of experiment to attempt. If 
one of them should fiuc.ceed, we shall have work for the rest of 

1870—1872 199 

our lives, and in one of the greatest subjects man could ap- 
proach, for I should not despair of arriving by this means at a 
very deep, unexpected and extraordinary modification of the 
animal and vegetable species. 

** Good-bye, my dear Raulin. Let us endeavour to distract 
our thoughts from human turpitudes by the disinterested search 
after truth." 

In a little notebook where he jotted down some intended ex- 
periments we find evidence of those glimpses of divination in a 
few summary lines : ' ' Show that life is in the germ, that it has 
been but in a state of transmission since the origin of creation. 
That the germ possesses possibilities of development, either of 
intelligence and will, or — and in the same way — of physical 
organs. Compare these possibilities with those possessed by 
the germ of chemical species which is in the chemical molecule. 
The possibilities of development in the germ of the chemical 
molecule consist in crystallization, in its form, in its physical 
and chemical properties. Those properties are in power in the 
germ of the molecule in the same way as the organs and tissues 
of animals and plants are in their respective germs. Add: 
nothing is more curious than to carry the comparison of living 
species with mineral species into the study of the wounds of 
either, and of their healing by means of nutrition — a nutrition 
coming from within in living beings, and from without through 
the medium of crystallization in the others. Here detail 
xactS. ... 

In that same notebook, Pasteur, after writing down the fol- 
lowing heading, *' Letter to prepare on the species in connection 
with molecular dissymmetry," added, **I could write that letter 
to Bernard. I should say that being deprived of a laboratory 
by the present state of France, I am going to give him the pre- 
conceived ideas that I shall try to experiment upon when better 
times come. There is no peril in expressing ideas a yriori, 
when they are taken as such, and can be gradually modified, 
perhaps even completely transformed, according to the result 
of the observation of facts." 

He once compared those preconceived ideas with searchlights 
guiding the experimentalist, saying that they only became 
dangerous when they became fixed ideas. 

Civil war had now come, showing, as Renan said, '*a sore 
under the sore, an abyss below the abyss." What were the 
hopes and projects of Pasteur and of Sainte Claire Deville now 


that the very existence of the divided country was jeopardized 
under the eyes of the Prussians? The world of letters and of 
science, helpless amidst such disorders, had dispersed; Saint 
Claire Deville was at Gex, Dumas at Geneva. Some were 
wondering whether lectures could not be organized in Switzer- 
land and in Belgium as they had been under the Empire, thus 
spreading abroad the inj3uence of French thought. Examples 
might be quoted of men who had served the glory of their 
country in other lands, such as Descartes, who took refuge in 
Holland in order to continue his philosophic meditations. 
Pasteur might have been tempted to do likewise. Already, 
before the end of the war, an Italian professor of chemistry, 
Signor Chiozza, who had applied Pasteur's methods to silk- 
worms in the neighbourhood of Villa Yicentina, got the Italian 
Government to offer him a laboratory and the direction of a 
silkworm establishment. Pasteur refused, and a deputy ot 
Pisa, Signor Toscanelli, hearing of this, obtained for Pasteur 
the offer of what was better still — a professor's chair of 
Chemistry applied to Agriculture at Pisa; this would give 
every facility for work and all laboratory resources. *'Pisa,'' 
Signor Chiozza said, **is a quiet town, a sort of Latin quarter 
in the middle of the country, where professors and students 
form the greater part of the population. I think you would be 
received with the greatest cordiality and quite exceptional con- 
sideration ... I fear that black days of prolonged agitation 
are in store for France.'* 

Pasteur's health and work were indeed valuable to the whole 
world, and Signor Chiozza 's proposition seemed simple and 
rational. Pasteur was much divided in his mind: his first im- 
pulse was to renew his refusal. He thought but of his van- 
quished country, and did not wish to forsake it. But was it to 
his country's real interests that he should remain a helpless 
spectator of so many disasters? Was it not better to carry 
French teaching abroad, to try and provoke in young Italian 
students enthusiasm for French scientists, French achieve- 
ments? He might still serve his beloved country in that quiet 
retreat, amidst all those facilities for continuous work. He 
thought of writing to Raulin, who had relations in Italy, and 
who might follow his master. Finally, he was offered very 
great personal advantages, a high salary — and this determined 
his refusal, for, as he wrote to Signor Chiozza, ''I should feel 
that I deserved a deserter's penalty if I sought, away from my 

1870—1872 201 

country in distress, a material situation better than it can 
oit'er me." 

"Nevertheless allow me to tell you, Sir (he wrote to Signor 
Toscanelli, refusing his offer), in all sincerity, that the memory 
of your offer will remain in the annals of my family as a title 
of nobility, as a proof of Italy's sympathy for France, as a 
token of the esteem accorded to my work. And as far as you, 
M. le Depute, are concerned it will remain in my eyes a 
brilliant proof of the way in which public men in Italy regard 
science and its grandeur." 

And now what was Pasteur to do — ^he who could not live 
away from a laboratory? In April, 1871, he could neither go 
back to Paris and the Commune nor to Arbois, now trans- 
formed into a Prussian depot. It seemed, indeed, from the 
letters he received that his fellow citizens were now destined 
but to feed and serve a victorious foe, whose exactions were all 
the more rigorous that the invasion of the town on January 25 
had been preceded by an attempt at resistance on the part of the 
inhabitants. On that morning, a few French soldiers who were 
seeking their regiments and a handful of fj-anc tireurs had 
posted themselves among the vines. About ten o'clock a first 
shot sounded in the distance ; in a turn of the sinuous Besangon 
road, when the Prussian vanguard had appeared, a Zouave — 
who the day before was begging from door to door, shaking with 
ague, and who had taken refuge in the village of Montigny, 
two kilometres from Arbois — had in despair fired his last 
cartridge. A squad of Prussians left the road and rushed to- 
wards the smoke of the gun. The soldier was seized, shot 
down on the spot, and mutilated with bayonets. Whilst the 
main column continued their advance towards the town, de- 
tachments explored the vines on either side of the road, shoot- 
ing here and there. An old man who, with a courageous 
indifference, was working in his vineyard was shot down at his 
work. A little pastrycook's boy, nicknamed Biscuit by the 
Arboisians, who, led by curiosity, had come down from the 
upper town to the big poplar trees at the entrance of Arbois, 
suddenly staggered, struck by a Prussian bullet. He was just 
able to creep back to the first house, his eyes already dimmed by 

Those were but the chances of war, but other crueller 
episodes thrilled Pasteur to the very depths of his soul. Such 
things are lost in history, just as a little blood spilt disappears 


in a river, but, for the witnesses and contemporaries of the 
facts, the trace of blood remains. An incident will help the 
reader to understand the lasting indignation the war excited 
in Pasteur. 

One of the Prussian sergeants, who, after the shot fired at 
Montigny, were leading small detachments of soldiers, thought 
that a house on the outskirts of Arbois, in the faubourg of 
Yerreux, looked as if it might shelter franc tireurs. He 
directed his men towards it and the house was soon reached. 

It was now twelve o'clock, all fighting had ceased, and the 
first Prussians who had arrived were masters of the town. 
Others were arriving from various directions; a heavy silence 
reigned over the town. The mayor, M. Lefort, led by a 
Prussian officer who covered him with a revolver whenever he 
addressed him, was treated as a hostage responsible for abso- 
lute submission. Every door in the small Town Hall was opened 
in succession in order to see that there were no arms hidden. 
The mayor was each time made to pass first, so that he should 
receive the shot in case of a surprise. In the library, three 
flags, which General Delort had brought back from the Rhine 
campaign when he was a captain in the cavalry and given to 
his native town, were torn down and the general's bust over* 

The sergeant, violently entering the suspected house with 
his men, found a whole family peacefully sitting down to their 
dinner — the husband, wife, a son of nineteen, and two young 
daughters. The invaders made no search nor asked any ques- 
tions of those poor people, who had probably done nothing worse 
than to offer a few glasses of wine to French soldiers as they 
passed. The sergeant did not even ask the name of the master 
of the house (Antoine Ducret, aged fifty-nine), but seized him 
by his coat and ordered his men to seize the son too. The 
woman, who rushed to the door in her endeavour to prevent her 
husband and her son from being thus taken from her, was 
violently flung to the end of the room, her trembling daughters 
crouching around her as they listened to the heavy Prussian 
boots going down the wooden stairs. There is a public drinking 
fountain not far from the house; Ducret was taken there and 
placed against a wall. He understood, and cried out, ''Spare 
my son!!" "What do you say?" said the sergeant to the 
boy. ''I will stay with my father," he answered simply. The 
father, struck by two bullets at close range, fell at the feet of 

LJ > /. '■ • ^■•r 

1870—1872 20 


his son, who was shot down immediately afterwards. The two 
corpses, afterwards mutilated with bayonets, remained lying 
by the water side; the neighbours succeeded in preventing the 
mother and her two daughters from leaving their house until 
the bodies had been placed in a coffin. On the tombs of Antoine 
and Charles Ducret the equivocal inscription was placed "Fell 
at Arbois, January 25, 1871, under Prussian fire." For the 
honour of humanity, a German officer, having heard these de- 
tails, offered the life of the sergeant to Ducret 's widow; but 
she entertained no thoughts of revenge. "His death would 
not give them back to me," she said. 

Pasteur could not become resigned to the humiliation of 
France, and, tearing his thoughts from the nightmare of the 
war and the Commune, he dwelt continually on the efforts 
that would be necessary- to carry out the great task of raising 
the country once again to its proper rank. In his mind it was 
the duty of every one to say, "In what way can I be useful?" 
Each man should strive not so much to play a great part as to 
give the best of his ability. He had no patience with those 
who doubt everything in order to have an excuse for doing 

He had indeed known dark moments of doubt and mis- 
givings, as even the greatest minds must do, but notwith- 
standing these periods of discouragement he was convinced that 
science and peace will ultimately triumph over ignorance and 
war. In spite of recent events, the bitter conditions of peace 
which tore unwilling Alsace and part of Lorraine away from 
France, the heavy tax of gold and of blood weighing down future 
generations, the sad visions of young men in their prime cut 
down on the battlefield or breathing their last in hospitals all to 
no apparent purpose; in spite of all these sad memories he was 
persuaded that thinkers would gradually awaken in the nations 
ideas of justice and of concord. 

He had now for nine years been following with a passionate 
interest some work begun in his own laboratory by Raulin, his 
first curator. Some of the letters he wrote to Raulin during 
those nine years give us a faint idea of the master that Pasteur 
was. It had been with great regret that Raulin had left the 
laboratory in obedience to the then laws of the University in 
order to take up active work at the Brest college, and Pasteur's 
letters (December, 1862) brought him joy and encouragement: 
"Keep up your courage, do not allow the idleness of pro- 


vincial life to disturb you. Teach your pupils to the very best 
of your ability and give up your leisure to experiments; this 
was M. Biot's advice to myself." "When in July, 1863, he 
began to fear that Raulin might allow imagination to lead him 
astray in his work, he repeatedly advised him to state 
nothing that could not be proved: *'Be very strict in 
your deductions"; then, apparently, loth to damp the young 
man's ardour: *'I have the greatest confidence in your judg- 
ment; do not take too much heed of my observations." 

In 1863 Pasteur asked Raulin to come with him, Gernez and 
Duclaux, to Arbois for some studies on wdnes, etc., but Raulin, 
absorbed in the investigations he had undertaken, refused; in 
1865 he refused to come to Alais, still being completely wrapt 
up in the same work. Pasteur sympathized heartily with his 
pupil's perseverance, and, when Raulin was at last able to 
announce to his master the results so long sought after, Pasteur 
hurried to Caen, where Raulin was now professor of Physics, 
and returned full of enthusiasm. His modesty in all that con- 
cerned himself now giving way to delighted pride, he spoke of 
Raulin 's discoveries to every one. Yet they concerned an 
apparently unimportant subject — a microscopical fungus, a 
simple mucor, whose spores, mingled with atmospheric germs, 
develop on bread moistened with vinegar or on a slice of lemon ; 
yet no precious plant ever inspired more care or solicitude than 
that aspergillus niger, as it is called. Raulin, inspired by 
Pasteur's studies on cultures in an artificial medium, that is, a 
medium exclusively composed of defined chemical substances, 
resolved to find for this plant a typical medium capable of giving 
its maximum development to the aspergillus niger. Some of 
his comrades looked upon this as upon a sort of laboratory 
amusement; but Raulin, ever a man of one idea, looked upon 
the culture of miscroscopic vegetation as a step towards a greater 
knowledge of vegetable physiology, leading to the development 
of artificial manure production, and from that to the rational 
nu rition of the human organisms. He started from the condi- 
tions indicated by Pasteur for the development of mucedinas in 
general and in particular for a mucor which has some points of 
resemblance with the aspergillus niger, the penicUlium glau- 
cum, which spreads a bluish tint over mouldy bread, jam, and 
soft cheeses. Raulin began by placing pure spores of asper- 
gillus niger on the surface of a saucer comtaining everything 


1870—1872 205 

that seemed necessary to their perfect growth, in a stove heated 
to a temperature of 20° C. ; but in spite of every care, after 
forty days had passed, the tiny fungus was languishing and 
unhealthy. A temperature of 30° did not seem more successful; 
and when the stove was heated to above 38° the result was the 
same. At 35°, with a moist and changing atmosphere, the re- 
sult was favourable — very fortunately for Raulin, for the 
principal of the college, an economically minded man, did not 
approve of burning so much gas for such a tiny fungus and with 
such poor results. This want of sympathy excited Raulin ^s 
solemn wrath and caused him to meditate dark projects of 
revenge, such as ignoring his enemy in the street on some future 
occasion. In the meanwhile he continued his slow and careful 
experiments. He succeeded at last in composing a liquid, tech- 
nically called Raulin 's liquid, in which the aspergillus niger 
grew and flourished within six or even three days. Eleven sub- 
stances were necessary: water, candied sugar, tartaric acid, 
nitrate of ammonia, phosphate of ammonia, carbonate of 
potash, carbonate of magnesia, sulphate of ammonia, sulphate 
of zinc, sulphate of iron, and silicate of potash. He now 
studied the part played by each of those elements, varying his 
quantities, taking away one substance and adding another, and 
obtained some veiy curious results. For instance, the asper- 
gillus was extraordinarily sensitive to the action of zinc ; if 
the quantity of zinc was reduced by a few milligrams the vegeta- 
tion decreased by one-tenth. Other elements were pernicious; 
if Raulin added to his liquid tb-^Itj-tto- of nitrate of silver, the 
growth of the fungus ceased. Moreover, if he placed the liquid 
in a silver goblet instead of a china saucer, the vegetation did 
not even begin, ''though," writes M. Duclaux, analysing this 
fine work of his fellow student, **it is almost impossible to 
chemically detect any dissolution of the silver into the liquid. 
But the fungus proves it by dying." 

In this thesis, now a classic, which only appeared in 1870, 
Raulin enumerated with joyful gratitude all that he owed to his 
illustrious master — general views, principles and methods, sug- 
gestive ideas, advice and encouragement — saying that Pasteur 
had shown him the road on which he had travelled so far. 
Pasteur, touched by his pupil's affection, wrote to thank him, 
saying: ''You credit me with too much; it is enough for me 
that your work should be known as having been begun in my 


laboratory, and in a direction the fruitfulness of which. I was 
perhaps the first to point out. I had only conceived hopes, and 
you bring us solid realities." 

In April, 1871, Pasteur, preoccupied with the future, and 
ambitious for those who might come after him, wrote to Claude 
Bernard: *' Allow me to submit to you an idea which has oc- 
curred to me, that of conferring on my dear pupil and friend 
Raulin the Experimental Physiology prize, for his splendid 
work on the nutriment of mucors, or rather of a mucor, the ex- 
cellence of which work has not escaped you. I doubt if you can 
find anything better. I must tell you that this idea occurred 
to me whilst reading your admirable report on the progress of 
General Physiology in Prance. If therefore my suggestion 
seems to you acceptable, you will have sown the germ of it in 
my mind; if you disapprove of it I shall make you partly 

Claude Bernard hastened to reply: **You may depend upon 
my support for your pupil M. Raulin. It will be for me both 
a pleasure and a duty to support such excellent work and to 
glorify the method of the master who inspired it." 

In his letter to Claude Bernard, Pasteur had added these 
words: ^'I have made up my mind to go and spend a few 
months at Royat with my family, so as to be near my deaif 
Duclaux. We shall raise a few grammes of silkworm seed." 

M. Duclaux was then professor of chemistry at the Faculty 
of Clermont Ferrand, a short distance from Royat, and Pasteur 
intended to walk every day to the laboratory of his former pupil. 
But M. Duclaux did not countenance this plan; he meant to 
entertain his master and his master's family in his own house, 
25, Rue Montlosier, where he could even have one room 
arranged as a silkworm nursery. He succeeded in persuading 
Pasteur, and they organized a delightful home life which re 
called the days at Pont Gisquet before the war. 

Pasteur was seeking the means of making his seed-selecting 
process applicable to small private nurseries as well as to large 
industrial establishments. The only difficulty was the cost of 
the indispensable microscope; but Pasteur thought that each 
village might possess its microscope, and that the village school- 
master might be entrusted with the examination of the moths. 

In a letter written in April, 1871, to M. Bellotti, of the 
Milan Civic Museum, Pasteur, after describing in a few lines 
the simple process he had taken five years to study, added — 

1870—1872 207 

( ( 

If I dared to quote myself, I would recall those words from 
mv book — 

" 'If I were a silkworm cultivator I never would raise seed 
from worms I had not observed during the last days of their life, 
so as to satisfy myself as to their vigour and agility just before 
spinning. The seed chosen should be that wliich comes from 
worms who climbed the twigs with agility, who showed no 
mortality from flachery between the fourth moulting and climb- 
ing time, and whose freedom from corpuscles will have been 
demonstrated by the microscope. If that is done, any one with 
the slightest knowledge of silkworm culture will succeed in 
every case.* " 

Italy and Austria vied with each other in adopting the seed 
selected by the Pasteur system. But it was only when Pasteur 
was on the eve of receiving from the Austrian Government the 
great prize offered in 1868 to ** whoever should discover a pre- 
ventive and curative remedy against pebrine" that French 
sericicultors began to be convinced. The French character 
offers this strange contrast, that France is often wiUing to risk 
her fortune and her blood for causes which may be unworthy, 
whilst at another moment, in everyday life, she shrinks at the 
least innovation before accepting a benefit originated on her 
own soil. The French often wait until other nations have 
adopted and approved a French discovery before venturing to 
adopt it in their turn. 

Pasteur did not stop to look back and delight in his success, 
but hastened to turn his mind to another kind of study. His 
choice of a subject was influenced by patriotic motives. 
Germany was incontestably superior to France in the manufac- 
ture of beer, and he conceived the thought of making France a 
successful rival in that respect ; in order to enable himself to 
do so, he undertook to study the scientific mechanism of beer 

There was a brewery at Chamalieres, between Clermont and 
Royat. Pasteur began by visiting it with eager curiosity, 
inquiring into the minutest details, endeavouring to find out 
the why and the wherefore of every process, and receiving 
vague answers with much astonishment. M. Kuhn, the 
Chamalieres brewer, did not know much more about beer than 
did his fellow brewers in general. Very little was known at 
that time about the way it was produced ; when brewers re- 
ceived complaints from their customers, they procured yeas^ 


from a fresh source. In a book of reference which was then 
much in use, entitled Alimentary Substances: the Means of 
Improving and Preserving them, and of Recognizing their 
Alterations, six pages were given up to beer by the author, M. 
Payen, a member of the Institute. He merely showed that 
germinated barley, called malt, was diluted, then heated and 
mixed with hops, thus forming beer-wort, which was sub- 
mitted, when cold, to alcoholic fermentation through the yeast 
added to the above liquid. M. Payen conceded to beer some 
nutritive properties, but added, a little disdainfully, *'Beer, 
perhaps on account of the pungent smell of hops, does not seem 
endowed with stimulating properties as agreeable, or as likely 
to inspire such bright and cheerful ideas, as the sweet and 
varied aroma of the good wines of France.'' 

In a paragraph on the alterations of beer — '^spontaneous 
alterations" — M. Payen said that it was chiefly during the 
summer that beer became altered. **It becomes acid, and 
even noticeably putrid, and ceases to be fit to drink." 

Pasteur's hopes of making French beer capable of competing 
with German beer were much strengthened by faith in his own 
method. He had, by experimental proof, destroyed the theory 
of spontaneous generation; he had shown that chance has no 
share in fermentations; the animated nature and the specific 
characteristics of those ferments, the methods of culture in 
appropriate media, were so many scientific points gained. The 
difficulties which remained to be solved were the question of 
pure yeast and the search for the causes of alteration which 
make beer thick, acid, sour, slimy or putrid. Pasteur thought 
that these alterations were probably due to the development of 
germs in the air, in the water, or on the surface of the numerous 
utensils used in a brewery. 

As he advanced further and further into that domain of the 
infinitely small which he had discovered, whether the subject 
was wine, vinegar, or silkworms — this last study already open- 
ing before him glimpses of light on human pathology — new and 
unexpected visions rose before his sight. 

Pasteur had formerly demonstrated that if a putrescible 
liquid, such as beef broth for instance, after being previously 
boiled, is kept in a vessel with a long curved neck, the air only 
reaching it after having deposited its germs in the curves of the 
neck, does not alter it in any way. He now desired to invent 
an apparatus which would protect the wort against external 

1870—1872 209 

dusts, against the microscopic germs ever ready to interfere 
with the course of proper fermentation by the introduction of 
other noxious ferments. It was necessary to prove that beer 
remains unalterable whenever it does not contain the organisms 
which cause its diseases. Many technical difficulties were in 
the way, but the brewers of Chamalieres tried in the most 
obliging manner to facilitate things for him. 

This exchange of services between science and industry was 
in accordance with Pasteur's plan; though he had been 
prophesying for fourteen years the great progress which would 
result from an alliance between laboratories and factories, the 
idea was hardly understood at that time. Yet the manufac- 
turers of Lille and Orleans, the wine merchants and the silk- 
worm cultivators of the South of France, and of Austria and 
Italy, might well have been called as enthusiastic witnesses to 
the advantages of such a collaboration. 

Pasteur, happy to make the fortune of others, intended to 
organize, against the danger of alterations in beer, some experi- 
ments which would give to that industry solid notions resting on 
a scientific basis. "Dear master,'* wrote he to J. B. Dumas 
on August 4, 1871, from Clermont, *'I have asked the brewer 
to send you twelve bottles of my beer. ... I hope you will find 
it compares favourably even with the excellent beer of Paris 
cafes.'' There was a postscript to this letter, proving once 
more Pasteur's solicitude for his pupils. **A thousand thanks 
for your kind welcome of Raulin's work; Bernard's support has 
also been promised him. The Academy could not find a better 
recipient for the prize. It is quite exceptional work." 

Pasteur, ever full of praises for his pupil, also found excuses 
for him. In spite of M. Duclaux's pressing request, Raulin 
had again found reasons to refuse an invitation to come to 
Auvergne for a few days. "I regret very much that you did 
not come to see us," wrote Pasteur to Raulin, ** especially on 
account of the beer. . . . Tell me what you think of doing. 
When are you coming to Paris for good? I shall want you to 
help me to arrange my laboratory, where everything, as you 
know, has still to be done; it must be put into working order 
as soon as possible." 

Pasteur would have liked Raulin to come with him to London 
in September, 1871, before settling down in Paris. 

The Chamalieres brewery was no longer sufficient for 
Pasteur ; he wished to see one of those great English breweTie? 


which produce in one year more than 100,000 hectolitres of beer. 
The great French savant was most courteously received by the 
managers of one of the most important breweries in London, 
who offered to show him round the works where 250 men were 
employed. But Pasteur asked for a little of the barm of the 
porter which was flowing into a trough from the cask. He 
examined that yeast with a microscope, and soon recognized 
a noxious ferment which he drew on a piece of paper and 
showed to the bystanders, saying, **This porter must leave 
much to be desired/^ to the astonished managers, who had 
not expected this sudden criticism. Pasteur added that surely 
the defect must have been betrayed by a bad taste, perhaps 
already complained of by some customers. Thereupon the 
managers owned that that very morning some fresh yeast had 
had to be procured from another brewery. Pasteur asked to 
see the new yeast, and found it incomparably purer, but such 
was not the case with the barm of the other products then in 
fermentation — ale and pale ale. 

By degrees, samples of every kind of beer on the premises 
were brought to Pasteur and put under the microscope. He 
detected marked beginnings of disease in some, in others merely 
a trace, but a threatening one. The various foremen were sent 
for; this scientific visit seemed like a police inquiry. The 
owner of the brewery, who had been fetched, was obliged to 
register, one after another, these experimental demonstrations. 
It was only human to show a little surprise, perhaps a little im- 
patience of wounded feeling. But it was impossible to mistake 
the authority of the French scientist's words: ** Every marked 
alteration in the quality of the beer coincides with the develop- 
ment of micro-organisms foreign to the nature of true beer 
yeast.'' It would have been interesting to a psychologist to 
study in the expression of Pasteur's hearers those shades of 
curiosity, doubt, and approbation, which ended in the 
thoroughly English conclusion that there was profit to be made 
out of this object lesson. 

Pasteur afterwards remembered with a smile the answers 
he received, rather vague at first, then clearer, and, finally — 
interest and confidence now obtained — the confession that 
theJ'e was in a corner of the brewery a quantity of spoilt besr, 
which had gone wrong only a fortnight after it was made, and 
was not drinkable. ''I examined it with a microscope," said 
Pasteur, **and could not at first detect any ferments of 

1870—1872 211 

disease; "but guessing that it might have become clear through 
a long rest, the ferments now inert having dropped to the 
bottom of the reservoirs, I examined the deposit at the bottom 
of the reservoirs. It was entirely composed of filaments of 
disease unmixed with the least globule of alcoholic yeast. 
The complementary fermentation of that beer had therefore 
been exclusivel}' a morbid fermentation." 

When he visited the same brewery again, a week later, he 
found that not only had a microscope been procured imme- 
diately, but the yeast of all the beer then being brewed had been 

Pasteur was happy to offer to the English, who like to call 
themselves practical men, a proof of the usefulness of dis- 
interested science, persuaded as he was that the moral debt 
incurred to a French scientist would in some measure revert 
TO France herself. "We must make some friends for our 
beloved France," he would say. And if in the course of con- 
versation an Englishman gave expression to any doubt con- 
cerning the future of the country, Pasteur, his grave and 
powerful face full of energy, would answer that every French- 
man, after the horrible storm which had raged for so many 
months, was valiantly returning to his daily task, whether 
great or humble, each one thinking of retrieving the national 

Every morning, as he left his hotel to go to the various 
breweries which he was now privileged to visit in their smallest 
details, he observed this English people, knowing the value of 
time, seeing its own interests in ail things, consistent in its 
ideas and in its efforts, respectful of established institutions and 
hierarchy; and he thought with regret how his own country- 
men lacked these qualities. But if the French are rightly 
taxed with a feverish love of change, should not justice be 
rendered to that generous side of the French character, so 
gifted, capable of so much, and which finds in self-sacrifice 
the secret of energy, for whom hatred is a real suffering? 
*'Let us work!" Pasteur's favourite phrase ever ended those 
philosophical discussions. 

He wanted to do two years' work in one, regardless of 
health and strength. Beyond the diseases of beer, avoidable 
since they come from outside, he foresaw the application of 
the doctrine of exterior germs to other diseases. But he did 
not allow his imagination to run away with him, and resolutely 


fixed his mind on his present object, which was the application 
of science to the brewing industry. 

*'The interest of those visits to English breweries/' wrote 
Pasteur to Eaulin, **and of the information I am able to col- 
lect (I hear that I ought to consider this as a great favour) 
causes me to regret very much that you should be in want of 
rest, for I am sure you would have been charmed to acquire 
so much instruction de visu. Why should you not come for 
a day or two if your health permits? Do as you like about 
that, but in any case prepare for immediate work on my 
return. We need not w^ait for the new laboratory; we can 
settle down in the old one and in a Paris brewery." 

When Pasteur returned to Paris, Bertin, who had not seen 
him since the recent historic events, welcomed him with a 
radiant delight. School friendships are like those favourite 
books which always open at the page we prefer; time has no 
hold on certain affections; ever new, ever young, they never 
show signs of age. Bertin *s love was very precious to Pasteur, 
though the two friends were as different from each other as 
possible. Pasteur, ever preoccupied, seemed to justify the 
Englishman who said that genius consists in an infinite 
capacity for taking pains; whilst Bertin, with his merry eyes, 
was the very image of a smiling philosopher. In spite of his 
position as sub-director, which he most conscientiously filled, 
he was not afraid to whistle or to sing popular songs as he 
went along the passages of the Ecole Normale. He came 
round to Pasteur's rooms almost every evening, bringing with 
him joy, lightness of heart, and a rest and relaxation for the 
mind, brightening up his friend by his amusing way of look- 
ing at things in general, and — at that time — beer in particular. 

Whilst Pasteur saw but pure yeast, and thought but of spores 
of disease, ferments, and parasitic invasions, Bertin would 
dilate on certain cafes in the Latin quarter, where, without 
regard to great scientific principles, experts could be asked 
to pronounce between the beer on the premises and laboratory 
beer, harmless and almost agreeable, but lacking in the refine- 
ment of taste of which Bertin, who had spent many years in 
Strasburg, was a competent judge. Pasteur, accustomed to 
an absolutely infallible method, like that which he had in- 
vented for the seeding of silkworms, heard Bertin say to him, 
** First of all, give me a gooa hock, you can talk learnedly 
afterwards." Pasteur acknowledged, however, the improve- 

1870—1872 213 

ments obtained by certain brewers, who, thanks to the ex- 
perience of years, knew how to choose yeast which gave a 
particular taste, and also how to employ preventive measures 
against accidental and pernicious ferments (such as the use of 
ice, or of hops in a larger quantity). But, though laughing 
at Bertin's jokes, Pasteur was convinced that great progress in 
the brewer ^s art would date from his studies. 

He was now going through a series of experiments, buying 
at Bertin's much praised cafes samples of various famous beers 
— Strasburg, Nancy, Vienna, Burton's, etc. After letting the 
samples rest for twenty-four hours he decanted them and 
sowed one drop of the deposit in vessels full of pure wort, 
which he placed in a temperature of 20° C. After fifteen or 
eighteen days he studied and tasted the yeasts formed in the 
wort, and found them all to contain ferments of diseases. He 
sowed some pure yeast in some other vessels, with the same 
precautions, and all the beers of this series remained pure from 
strange ferments and free from bad taste; they had merely 
become flat. 

He was eagerly seeking the means of judging how his labora- 
tory tests would work in practice. He spent some time at 
Tantonville, in Lorraine, visiting an immense brewery, of 
which the owners were the brothers Tourtel. Though very 
carefully kept, the brewery was yet not quite clean enough to 
satisfy him. It is true that he was more than difficult to 
please in that respect; a small detail of his everj^day life 
revealed this constant preoccupation. He never used a plate 
or a glass without examining them minutely and wiping them 
carefully; no microscopic speck of dust escaped his short- 
sighted eyes. Whether at home or with strangers he in- 
variably went through this preliminary exercise, in spite of 
the anxious astonishment of his hostess, who usually feared 
that some negligence had occurred, until Pasteur, noticing her 
slight dismay, assured her that this was but an inveterate 
scientist's habit. If he carried such minute care into daily 
life, we can imagine how strict was his examination of scien- 
tific things and of brewery tanks. 

After those studies at Tantonville with his curator, M. 
Grenet, Pasteur laid down three great principles — 

1. Every alteration either of the wort or of the beer itself 
depends on the development of micro-organisms which aro 
ferments of diseases. 


2. These germs of ferments are brought by the air, by tlie 
ingredients, or by the apparatus used in breweries. 

3. Whenever beer contains no living germs it is unalterable. 
"When once those principles were formulated and proved 

they were to triumph over all professional uncertainties. And 
in the same way that wines could be preserved from various 
causes of alteration by heating, bottled beer could escape the 
development of disease ferments by being brought to a tem- 
perature of 50° to 55°. The application of this process gave 
rise to the new word ^^pasteurized'' beer, a neologism which 
soon became current in technical language. 

Pasteur foresaw the distant consequences of these studies, 
and wrote in his book on beer — 

**When we see beer and wine subjected to deep alterations 
because they have given refuge to micro-organisms invisibly 
introduced and now swarming within them, it is impossible 
not to be pursued by the thought that similar facts may, must, 
take place in animals and in man. But if we are inclined to 
believe that it is so because we think it likely and possible, 
let us endeavour to remember, before we affirm it, that the 
greatest disorder of the mind is to allow the will to direct 
the belief. ' ' 

This shows us once more the strange duality of this inspired 
man, who associated in his person the faith of an apostle with 
the inquiring patience of a scientist. 

He was often disturbed by tiresome discussions from the 
researches to which he would gladly have given his whole 
time. The heterogenists had not surrendered ; they would 
not admit that alterable organic liquids could be indefinitely 
preserved from putrefaction and fermentation when in contact 
with air freed from dusts. 

Pouehet, the most celebrated of them, who considered that 
part of a scientist's duty consists in vulgarizing his discoveries, 
was preparing for the New Year, 1872, a book called The 
Universe: the Infinitely Great and the Infinitely Small. He 
enthusiastically recalled the spectacle revealed at the end of 
the seventeenth century by the microscope, which he com- 
pared to a sixth sense. He praised the discoveries made in 
1838 by Ehrenberg on the prodigious activity of infusories, 
but he never mentioned Pasteur's name, leaving entirely on 
one side the immense work accomplished by the infinitely 
small and ever active agents of putrefaction and fermentation. 

1870—1872 215 

He owned that "a few microaoa did fly about here and there/* 
but he called the theory of germs a ''ridiculous fiction." 

At the same time Liebig, who, since the interview in July, 
1870, had had time to recover his health, published a long 
treatise disputing certain facts put forward by Pasteur. 

Pasteur had declared that, in the process of vinegar-making 
known as the German process, the chips of beech-wood placed 
in the barrels were but supports for the mycoderma aceti. 
Liebig, after having, he said, consulted at Munich the chief 
of one of the largest vinegar factories, who did not believe in 
the presence of the mycoderma, affirmed that he himself had 
not seen a trace of the fungus on chips which had been used 
in that factory for twenty-five years. 

In order to bring this debate to a conclusion Pasteur sug- 
gested a very simple experiment, which was to dry some of 
those chips rapidly in a stove and to send them to Paris, where 
8. commission, selected from the members of the Academie 
des Sciences, would decide on this conflict. Pasteur under- 
took to demonstrate to the Commission the presence of the 
mycoderma on the surface of the chips. Or another means 
might be used : the Munich vinegar maker would be asked 
to scald one of his barrels with boiling water and then to make 
use of it again. ''According to Liebig 's theory," said 
Pasteur, "that barrel should work as before, but I affirm that 
no vinegar will form in it for a long time, not until new myco- 
derma have grown on the surface of the chips." In eifect, 
the boiling water would destroy the little fungus. With the 
usual clear directness which increased the interest of the 
public in this scientific discussion, Pasteur formulated once 
more his complete theory of acetification: "The principle is 
very simple: whenever wine is transformed into vinegar, it is 
by the action of the layer of mycoderma aceti developed on its 
surface." Liebig, however, refused the suggested test. 

Immediately after that episode a fresh adversary, M. Fremy, 
a member of the Academie des Sciences, began with Pasteur 
a discussion, which was destined to be a long one, on the 
question of the origin of ferments. M. Fremy alluded to 
the fact that he had given many years to that subject, having 
published a notice on lactic fermentation as far back as 1841, 
"at a time," he said, "when our learned colleague — M. 
Pasteur — was barely entering into science." . . . "In the pro- 
duction of wine," said M. Fremy, "it is the juice of the fruit 


itself, whicli, put in contact with air, gives birth to grains of 
yeast by the transformation of albuminous matter, whilst 
M. Pasteur declares that the grains of yeast are produced by 
germs." According to M. Fremy, ferments did not come from 
atmospheric dusts, but were created by organic bodies. And, 
inventing for his own use the new word hemiorganism, M. 
Fremy explained the word and the action by saying that there 
are some herm organized bodies which, by reason of the vital 
force with which they are endowed, go through successive 
decompositions and give birth to new derivatives; thus are 
ferments engendered. 

Another colleague, M. Trecul, a botanist and a genuine 
truth-seeking savant , arose in his turn. He said he had wit- 
nessed a whole transformation of microscopic species each into 
the other, and in support of this theory he invoked the names 
of the three inseparables — Pouchet, Musset and Joly. Him- 
self a heterogenist, he had in 1867 given a definition to which 
he willingly alluded: **Heterogenesis is a natural operation 
by which life, on the point of abandoning an organized body, 
concentrates its action on some particles of that body and 
forms thereof beings quite different from that of the sub- 
stance which has been borrowed." 

Old arguments and renewed negations were brought forward, 
and Pasteur knew well that this was but a reappearance of the 
old quarrel; he therefore answered by going straight to the 
point. At the Academic des Sciences, on December 26, 1871, 
he addressed M. Trecul in these words: **I can assure our 
learned colleague that he might have found in the treatises I 
have published decisive answers to most of the questions he has 
raised. I am really surprised to see him tackle the question 
of so-called spontaneous generation, without having more at 
his disposal than doubtful facts and incomplete observations. 
Mj^ astonishment was not less than at our last sitting, when 
M. Fremy entered upon the same debate with nothing to pro- 
duce but superannuated opinions and not one new positive 

In his passion for truth and his desire to be convincing 
Pasteur threw out this challenge: "Would M. Fremy confess 
his error if I were to demonstrate to him that the natural juice 
of the grape, exposed to the contact of air, deprived of its 
germs, can neither ferment nor give birth to organized 
yeast!" This interpellation was perhaps more violent than 

1870—1872 217 

was usual in the meetings of the solemn Academy, but scientific 
truth was in question. And Pasteur, recognizing the old 
arguments under M. Fremy's hemiorganism and M. Trecul's 
transformations, referred his two contradictors to the experi- 
ments by which he had proved that alterable liquids, such as 
blood or urine, could be exposed to the contact of air deprived 
of its germs without undergoing the least fermentation or putre- 
faction. Had not this fact been the basis on which Lister had 
founded **his marvellous surgical method'^? And in the bit- 
terness given to his speech by his irritation against error, the 
epithet ** marvellous " burst out with a visible delight in ren- 
dering homage to Lister. 

Pasteur, then in full possession of all the qualities of his 
genius, was feeling the sort of fever known to great scientists, 
great artists, great writers: the ardent desire of finding, of 
discovering something he could leave to posterity. Inter- 
rupted by these belated contradictors when he wanted to be 
going forward, he only restrained his impatience with difficulty. 

His old master, Balard, appealed to him in the Academic 
itself (January 22, 1872), in the name of their old friendship, to 
disregard the attacks of his adversaries, instead of wasting his 
time and his strength in trying to convince them. He reminded 
him of all he had achieved, of the benefits he had brought to 
the industries of wine, beer, vinegar, silkworms, etc., and 
alluded to the possibility foreseen by Pasteur himself of pre- 
serving mankind from some of the mysterious diseases which 
were perhaps due to germs in atmospheric air. He ended by 
urging him to continue his studies peacefully in the laboratory 
built for him, and to continue the scientific education of young 
pupils who might one day become worthy successors of Van 
Tieghera, Duclaux, Gernez, Raulin, etc. . . . thus forming a 
whole generation of young scientists instructed in Pasteur's 

M. Duclaux wrote to him in the same sense: **I see very 
well what you may lose in that fruitless struggle — your rest, 
your time and your health; I try in vain to see any possible 

But nothing stopped him; neither Balard 's public advice, 
his pupils' letters, even J. B. Dumas' imploring looks. He 
could not keep himself from replying. Sometimes he regretted 
his somewhat sharp language, though — in his own words — 
he never associated it with feelings of hostility townrdij his 


contradictors as long as he believed in their good faith; what 
he wanted was that truth should have the last word. "What 
you lack, M. Fremy, is familiarity w^ith a microscope, and you, 
M. Trecul, are not accustomed to laboratories!" *'M. 
Fremy is always trying to displace the question," said Pasteur, 
ten months after M. Balard's appeal. 

Whilst M. Fremy disputed, discussed, and filled the 
Academic with his objections, M. Trecul, whose life was some- 
what misanthropical and whose usually sad and distrustful 
face was seen nowhere but at the Institute, insisted slowly, 
in a mournful voice, on certain transformations of divers cells 
or spores from one into the other. Pasteur declared that those 
ideas of transformation were erroneous; but — and there lay 
the interest of the debate — there was one of those transforma- 
tions that Pasteur himself had once believed possible : that of 
the mycoderma vini, or wine flower, into an alcoholic ferment 
under certain conditions of existence. 

A modification in the life of the mycoderma when submerged 
had led him to believe in a transformation of the mycoderma 
cells into yeast cells. It was on this question, which had been 
left in suspense, that the debate with Trecul came to an end, 
leaving to the witnesses of it a most vivid memory of Pasteur's 
personality — inflexible when he held his proofs, full of scruples 
and reserve when seeking those proofs, and accepting no per- 
sonal praise if scientific truth was not recognized and honoured 
before everything else. 

On November 11 Pasteur said: "Four months ago doubts 
suddenly appeared in my mind as to the truth of the fact in 
question, and which M. Trecul still looks upon as indisputable. 
... In order to disperse those doubts I have instituted the 
most numerous and varied experiments and I have not suc- 
ceeded through those four months in satisfying myself by irre- 
fragable proofs; I still have my doubts. Let this example 
show to M. Trecul how difficult it is to conclude definitely in 
such delicate studies." 

Pasteur studied the scientific point for a long time, for he 
never abandoned a subject, but was ever ready to begin again 
after a failure. He modified the disposition of his first tests, 
and by the use of special vessels and slightly complicated 
apparatus succeeded in eliminating the only imaginable cause 
of error — the possible fall, during the manipulations, of exterior 
germs, that is, the fortuitous sowing of yeast cells. After that 

1870—1872 219 

he saw no more yeast and no more active alcoholic fermenta- 
tion; he had therefore formerly been the dupe of a delusion. 
In his Studies on Beer Pasteur tells of his error and its rectifi- 
cation: '*At a time when ideas on the transformations of 
species are so readily adopted, perhaps because they dispense 
with rigorous experimentation, it is somewhat interesting to 
consider that in the course of my researches on microscopic 
plants in a state of purity I once had occasion to believe in the 
transformation of one organism into another, the transforma- 
tion of the mycoderma vim or cerevisiae into yeast, and that 
this time I was in error ; I had not avoided the cause of illusion 
which my confirmed confidence in the theory of germs had so 
often led me to discover in the observations of others." 

''The notion of species," writes M. Duclaux, who was nar- 
rowly associated with those experiments, "was saved for the 
present from the attacks directed against it, and it has not been 
seriously contested since, at least not on that ground." 

Some failures are blessings in disguise. "When discovering 
his mistake, Pasteur directed his attention to a strange 
phenomenon. We find in his book on beer — a sort of labora- 
tory diary — the following details on his observation of the 
growth of some mycoderma seed which he had just scattered 
over some sweetened wine or beer-wort in small china saucers. 

''When the cells or articles of the mj^coderma vini are in 
full germinating and propagating activity in contact with air 
on a sweetened substratum, they live at the expense of that 
sugar and other subjacent materials absolutely like the animals 
who also utilize the oxygen in the air while freeing carbonic 
acid gas, consuming this and that, and correlatively increasing, 
regenerating themselves and creating new materials. 

"Under those conditions not only does the mycoderma vini 
form no alcohol appreciable by analj^sis, but if alcohol exists 
in the subjacent liquid the mycoderma reduces it to water and 
carbonic acid gas by the fixation of the oxygen in the air." 
Pasteur, having submerged the mycoderma and studied it to 
see how it would accommodate itself to the new conditions 
offered to it, and whether it would die like an animal 
asphyxiated by the sudden deprivation of oxygen, saw that life 
was continued in the submerged cells, slow, difficult, of a short 
duration, but undoubtedly life, and that this life was accom- 
panied by alcoholic fermentation. This time fermentation wa5 
due to the fungus itself. The mycoderma, originally an 


aerobia — that is, a being to the life and development of which 
air was necessary — became, after being submerged, an 
anaerobia, that is, a creature living without air in the depths of 
the liquid, and behaving after the manner of ferments. 

This extended the notions on aerobise and anaerobise which 
Pasteur had formerly discovered whilst making researches con- 
cerning the vibrio which is the butyric ferment, and those 
vibriones which are entrusted with the special fermentation 
known as putrefaction. Between the aerobiae who require air 
to live and the anaerobiae which perish when exposed to air, 
there was a class of organisms capable of living for a time 
outside the influence of air. No one had thought of studying 
the mouldiness which develops so easily when in contact with 
air; Pasteur was curious to see what became of it when sub- 
mitted like the mycoderma to that unexpected regime. He saw 
the penicillium, the aspergillus, the mucor-mucedo take the 
character of ferments when living without air, or with a quan- 
tity of air too small to surround their organs as completely as 
was necessary to their aerobia-plant life. The mucor, when 
submerged and thus forced to become an anaerobia, offers bud- 
ding cells, and there again it seemed as if they were yeast 
globules. **But,'' said Pasteur, ''this change of form merely 
corresponds to a change of function, it is but a self-adapta- 
tion to the new life of an anaerobia.'* And then, generalizing 
again and seeking for laws under the accumulation of isolated 
facts, he thought it probable that ferments had, ''but in a 
higher degree, a character common to most mucors if not to all, 
and probably possessed more or less by all living cells, viz., to 
be alternately aerobic or anaerobic, according to conditions of 

Fermentation, therefore, no longer appeared as an isolated 
and mysterious act; it was a general phenomenon, subordinate 
however to the small number of substances capable of a de- 
composition accompanied by a production of heat and of being 
used for the alimentation of inferior beings outside the presence 
and action of air. Pasteur put the whole theory into this 
concise formula, "Fermentation is life without air.'' 

"It will be seen," wrote M. Duclaux, "to what heights 
he had raised the debate; by changing the mode of interpreta- 
tion of known facts he brought out a new theory." 

But this new theory raised a chorus of controversy. Pasteur 
held to his proofs; he recalled what he had published concern- 

1870—1872 221 

ing the typical ferment, the yeast of beer, an article inserted in 
the reports of the Academic des Sciences for 1861, and entitled, 
The Influence of Oxygen on the Development of Yeast and on 
Alcoholic Fermentation. In this article Pasteur, a propos of 
the chemical action connected with vegetable life, explained in 
the most interesting manner the two modes of life of the yeast 
of beer. 

1. The yeast, placed in some sweet liquid in contact with air, 
assimilates oxygen gas and develops abundantly; under those 
conditions, it practically works for itself only, the production 
of alcohol is insignificant, and the proportion between the 
weight of sugar absorbed and that of the yeast is infinitesimal. 
2. But, in its second mode of life, if yeast is made to act upon 
sugar without the action of atmospheric air, it can no longer 
freely assimilate oxygen gas, and is reduced to abstracting 
oxy^gen from the fermentescible matter. 

*'It seems therefore natural," wrote Pasteur, **to admit that 
when yeast is a ferment, acting out of the reach of atmospheric 
air, it takes oxygen from sugar, that being the origin of its 
fermentative character." It is possible to put the fermenta- 
tive power of yeast through divers degrees of intensity by intro- 
ducing free oxygen in variable quantities. 

After comparing the yeast of beer to an ordinary plant, 
Pasteur added that **the analogy would be complete if ordinary 
plants had an affinity for oxygen so strong as to breathe, by 
withdrawing that element from unstable components, in which 
case they would act as ferments on those substances." He sug- 
gested that it might be possible to meet with conditions which 
would allow certain inferior plants to live away from atmo- 
spheric air in the presence of sugar, and to provoke fermenta- 
tion of that substance after the manner of beer yeast. 

He was already at that time scattering germs of ideas, with 
the intention of taking them up later on and experimenting on 
them, or, if time should fail him, willingly offering them to any 
attentive scientist. These studies on beer had brought him 
back to his former studies, to his great delight. 

*^What a sacrifice I made for you," he could not help saying 
to Dumas, with a mixture of affection and deference, and 
some modesty, for he apparently forgot the immense service 
rendered to sericiculture, "when I gave up my studies on 
ferments for five whole years in order to study silkworms!!!" 

No doubt a great deal of time was also wasted by the endless 


discussions entered into by his scientific adversaries; but 
those discussions certainly brought out and evidenced many 
guiding facts which are now undisputed, as for instance the 
following — 1. Ferments are living beings. 2. There is a 
special ferment corresponding to each kind of fermentation. 
3. Ferments are not born spontaneously. 

Liebig and his partisans had looked upon fermentation as a 
phenomenon of death; they had thought that beer yeast, and 
in general all animal and vegetable matter in a state of putre- 
faction, extended to other bodies its own state of decomposition. 

Pasteur, on the contrary, had seen in fermentation a 
phenomenon correlative with life; he had provoked the com- 
plete fermentation of a sweet liquid which contained mineral 
substances only, by introducing into it a trace of yeast, which, 
instead of dying, lived, flourished and developed. 

To those who, believing in spontaneous generation, saw in 
fermentations but a question of chance, Pasteur by a series of 
experimental proofs had sho\^Ti the origin of their delusion by 
indicating the door open to germs coming from outside. He 
had moreover taught the method of pure cultures. Finally, 
in those recent renewals of old quarrels on the transformations 
into each other of microscopic species, Pasteur, obliged by the 
raycoderma vini to study closely its alleged transformation, 
which he had himself believed possible, had thrown ample 
light on the only dark spot of his luminous domain. 

*'It is enough to think," writes M. Duclaux concerning that 
long discussion, ''we have but to remember that those who 
denied the specific nature of the germ would now deny the 
specific nature of disease, in order to understand the darkness 
in which such opinions would have confined microbian 
patholog}^; it was therefore important that they should be 
uprooted from every mind.' 




Pasteur had glimpses of another world beyond the 
phenomena of fermentation — the world of vims ferments. 
Two centuries earlier, an English physicist, Robert Boyle, 
had said that he who could probe to the bottom the nature of 
ferments and fermentation would probably be more capable 
than any one of explaining certain morbid phenomena. These 
words often recurred to the mind of Pasteur, who had, con- 
cerning the problem of contagious diseases, those sudden flashes 
of light wherein genius is revealed. But, ever insisting on 
experimental proofs, he constrained his exalted imagination so 
as to follow calmly and patiently the road of experimental 
method. He could not bear the slightest error, or even hasty 
interpretation, in the praises addressed to him. One day, 
during the period of the most ardent polemics, in the midst of 
the struggle on spontaneous generation, a medical man named 
Declat, who declared that Pasteur's experiments were "the 
glory of our century and the salvation of future generations,'* 
gave a lecture on "The Infinitesimally Small and their Role 
in the World.'' "After the lecture,'* relates Dr. Declat him- 
self, "M. Pasteur, whom I only knew by name, came to me» 
and, after the usual compliments, condemned the inductions 
I had drawn from his experiments. 'The arguments,' he said, 
*by which you support my theories, are most ingenious, but 
not founded on demonstrated facts; analogy is no proof.' " 

Pasteur used to speak very modestly of his work. He said, 
in a speech to some Arbois students, that it was "through 
assiduous work, with no special gift but that of perseverance 
joined to an attraction towards aU that is great and good, ' ' that 
he had met with success in his researches. He did not add 
that an ardent kindness of heart was ever urging him forward. 
After the services rendered within the last ten years to vinegar 



makers, silkworm cultivators, vine growers, and brewers, lie 
now wished to tackle what he had had in his mind since 1861 
— ^the study of contagious diseases. Thus, with the consistent 
logic of his mind, showing him as it did the possibility of 
realizing in the future Robert Boyle's prophecy, he associated 
the secret power of his feelings ; not to give those feelings their 
share would be to leave one side of his nature entirely in the 
shade. He had himself revealed this great factor in his char- 
acter when he had said, *'It would indeed be a grand thing to 
give the heart its share in the progress of science." He was 
ever giving it a greater share in his work. 

His sorrows had only made him incline the more towards 
the griefs of others. The memory of the children he had lost, 
the mournings he had witnessed, caused him to passionately 
desire that there might be fewer empty places in desolate 
homes, and that this might be due to the application of methods 
derived from his discoveries, of which he foresaw the immense 
bearings on pathology. Beyond this, patriotism being for him 
a ruling motive, he thought of the thousands of young men lost 
to France every year, victims of the tiny germs of murderous 
diseases. And, at the thought of epidemics and the heavy tax 
they levy on the whole world, his compassion extended itself 
to all human suffering. 

He regretted that he was not a medical man, fancying that 
it might have facilitated his task. It was true that, at every 
incursion on the domain of Medicine, he was looked upon as 
a chemist — a chymiaster, some said — who was poaching on the 
preserves of others. The distrust felt by the physicians in the 
chemists was of a long standing. In the Traite de Therapeu- 
tique, published in 1855 by Trousseau and Pidoux, we find 
this passage: **When a chemist has seen the chemical condi- 
tions of respiration, of digestion, or of the action of some drug, 
he thinks he has given the theory of those functions and 
phenomena. It is ever the same delusion which chemists will 
never get over. We must make up our minds to that, but let 
us beware of trying to profit by the precious researches which 
they would probably never undertake if they were not stimu- 
lated by the ambition of explaining what is outside their 
range.'* Pidoux never retrenched anything from two other 
phrases, also to be found in that same treatise : ' * Between a 
physiological fact and a pathological fact there is the same dif- 
ference as between a mineral and a vegetable"; and: **It is 

1873—1877 225 

not -within the power of physiology to explain the simplest 
pathological affection." Trousseau, on the other hand, was 
endowed with the far-seeing intelligence of a great physician 
attentive to the progress of science. He was greatly interested 
in Pasteur 's work, and fully appreciated the possibilities opened 
by each of his discoveries. 

Pasteur, with the simplicity which contrasted with his extra- 
ordinary powers, supposed that, if he were armed with 
diplomas, he would have greater authority to direct Medicine 
towards the study of the conditions of existence of phenomena, 
and — correlatively to the traditional method of observation, 
which consists in knowing and describing exactly the course 
of the disease — to inspire practitioners with the desire to pre- 
vent and to determine its cause. An unexpected offer went 
some way towards filling what he considered as a blank. At 
the beginning of the year 1873, a place was vacant in the 
section of the Free Associates of the Academy of Medicine. He 
was asked to stand for it, and hastened to accept. He was 
elected with a majority of only one vote, though he had been 
first on the section's list. The other suffrages were divided 
between I\ressrs. Le Roy de Merieourt, Brochin, Lheritier, 
and Bertillon. 

Pasteur, as soon as he was elected, promised himself that he 
would be a most punctual academician. It was on a Tuesday 
in April that he attended his first meeting. As he walked 
towards the desk allotted to him, his paralyzed left leg dragging 
a little, no one among his colleagues suspected that this quiet 
and unassuming new member would become the greatest revolu- 
tionary ever known in Medicine. 

One thing added to Pasteur's pleasure in being elected — the 
fact that he would join Claude Bernard. The latter had often 
felt somewhat forlorn in that centre, where some hostility was 
so often to be seen towards all that was outside the Clinic. 
This was the time when the *' princes of science," or those who 
were considered as such, were all physicians. Every great 
physician was conscious of being a ruling power. The almost 
daily habit of advising and counselling was added to that idea 
of haughty or benevolent superiority to the rest of the world; 
and, accustomed to dictate his wishes, the physician frequently 
adopted an authoritative tone and became a sort of personage. 
**Have you noticed," said Claude Bernard to Pasteur with a 
smile under which many feelings were hidden, **that. when a 


doctor enters a room, he always looks as if he was going to say, 
* I have just been saving a fellow-man ' ? " 

Pasteur knew not those harmless shafts which are a revenge 
for prolonged pomposity. Why need Claude Bernard trouble 
to wonder what So-and-so might think? He had the con- 
sciousness of the work accomplished and the esteem and 
admiration of men whose suffrage more than satisfied him. 
Whilst Pasteur was already desirous of spreading in the 
Academic de Medecine the faith which inspired him, Claude 
Bernard remembered the refractory state of mind of those who, 
at the time of his first lectures on experimental physiology 
applied to medicine, affirmed that ** physiology can be of no 
practical use in medicine ; it is but a science de luxe which could 
well be dispensed with.*' He energetically defended this 
science de luxe as the very science of life. In his opening 
lecture at the Museum in 1870, he said that ** descriptive 
anatomy is to physiology as geography to history; and, as it 
is not sufficient to understand the topography of a country to 
know its history, so is it not enough to know the anatomy of 
an organ to understand its functions. '* Mery, an old surgeon, 
familiarly compared anatomists to those errand boys in large 
towns, who know the names of the streets and the numbers of 
the houses, but do not know what goes on inside. There are 
indeed in tissues and organs physico-chemical phenomena for 
which anatomy cannot account. 

Claude Bernard was convinced that Medicine would gradually 
emerge from quackery, and this by means of the experimental 
method, like all other science. **No doubt,'' he said, *'we 
shall not live to see the blossoming out of scientific medicine, 
but such is the fate of humanity; those that sow on the field 
of science are not destined to reap the fruit of their labours." 
And so saying, Claude Bernard continued to sow. 

It is true that here and there flashes of light had preceded 
Pasteur; but, instead of being guided by them, most doctors 
continued to advance majestically in the midst of darkness. 
Whenever murderous diseases, scourges of humanity, were in 
question, long French or Latin words were put forward, such 
as '* Epidemic genius," faUim, quid ignotum quid divinum, etc. 
Medical co7istitution was also a useful word, elastic and applic- 
able to anything. 

When the Yale de Grace physician, Villemin — a modest, 
e;ei;tle-voiced man, who, under his quiet exterior, hid a veritable 

187a— 1877 227 

thirst for scientific truth — after experimental researches carried 
on from 1865 to 1869, brought the proof that tuberculosis is a 
disease which reproduces itself, and cannot be reproduced but 
by itself ; in a word, specific, inoeulable, and contagious, he was 
treated almost as a perturber of medical order. 

Dr. Pidoux, an ideal representative of traditional medicine^, 
with his gold-buttoned blue coat and his reputation equally- 
great in Paris and at the Eaux-Bonnes, declared that the idea of 
specificity was a fatal thought. Himself a pillar of the doctrine 
of diathesis and of the morbid spontaneity of the organism, he 
exclaimed in some much applauded speeches: ^'Tuberculosis! 
but that is the common result of a quantity of divers external 
and internal causes, not the product of a specific agent ever the 
same!'' Was not this disease to be looked upon as *'one and 
multiple at the same time, bringing the same final conclusion, 
the necrobiotic and infecting destruction of the plasmatic tissue 
of an organ by a number of roads which the hygienist and 
physician must endeavour to close?" Where would these 
specificity doctrines lead to? ''Applied to chronic diseases, 
these doctrines condemn us to the research of specific remedies 
or vaccines, and all progress is arrested. . . . Specificity im- 
mobilizes medicine." These phrases were reproduced by the 
medical press. 

The bacillus of tuberculosis had not been discovered by Vil- 
lemin; it was only found and isolated much later, in 1882, by 
Dr. Koch; but Yillemin suspected the existence of a virus. In 
order to demonstrate the infectious nature of tuberculosis, he 
experimented on animals, multiplying inoculations; he took the 
sputum of tuberculous patients, spread it on cotton wool, dried 
it, and then made the cotton wool into a bed for little guinea- 
pigs, who became tuberculous. Pidoux answered these precise 
facts by declaring that Yillemin was fascinated by inoculation, 
adding ironically, ''Then all we doctors have to do is to set 
out nets to catch the sporules of tuberculosis, and find a 

That sudden theory of phthisis, falling from the clouds, 
resembled Pasteur's theory of germs floating in air. W^as it 
not better, urged Pidoux the heterogenist, to remain in the 
truer and more philosophical doctrine of spontaneous genera- 
tion? "Let us believe, until the contrary is proved, that we 
are right, we partisans of the common etiology of phthisis, par- 
tisans of the spontaneous tuberculous degeneration of the 


organism under the influence of accessible causes, which \vi 
seek everywhere in order to cut down the evil in its roots." 

A reception somewhat similar to that given to Villemin was 
reserved for Davaine, who, having meditated on Pasteur's 
works on butjTic ferment and the part played by that ferment, 
compared it and its action T\ath certain parasites visible with 
a microscope and observed by him in the blood of animals which 
had died of charbon disease. By its action and its rapid multi- 
plication in the blood, this agent endowed with life probably 
acted, said Davaine, after the manner of ferments. The blood 
was modified to that extent that it speedily brought about the 
death of the infected animal. Davaine called those filaments 
found in anthrax ''bacteria," and added, ''They have a place 
in the classification of living beings." But what was that 
animated virus to many doctors? They answered experimental 
proofs by oratorical arguments. 

At the very time when Pasteur took his seat at the Academy 
of Medicine, Davaine was being violently attacked; his experi- 
ments on septicaemia were the cause, or the pretext. But the 
mere tone of the discussions prepared Pasteur for future battles. 
The theory of germs, the doctrine of virus ferments, all this 
was considered as a complete reversal of acquired notions, a 
heresy which had to be suppressed. A well-known surgeon, 
Dr. Chassaignac, spoke before the Academic de Medecine of 
what he called ^'laboratory surgery, which has destroyed very 
many animals and saved very few human beings." In order to 
remind experimentalists of the distance between them and 
practitioners, he added: "Laboratory results should be brought 
out in a circumspect, modest and reserved manner, as long as 
they have not been sanctioned by long clinical researches, a 
sanction without which there is no real and practical medical 
science." Everything, he said, could not be resolved into a 
question of bacteria ! And, ironically, far from realizing the 
truth of his sarcastic prophecy, he exclaimed, "Typhoid fever, 
bacterization ! Hospital miasma, bacterization ! " 

Every one had a word to say. Dr. Piorry, an octogenarian, 
somewhat weighed down with the burden of his years and 
reputation, rose to speak with his accustomed solemnity. He 
had found for Villemin 's experiments the simple explanation 
that "the tuberculous matter seems to be no other than pus, 
which, in consequence of its sojourn in the organs, has under- 
gone varied and numerous modifications"; and he now inx' 

1873—1877 229 

agined that one of the principal causes of fatal accidents due 
to septicaemia after surgical operations was the imperfect ven- 
tilation of hospital wards. It was enough, he thought, that 
putrid odours should not be perceptible, for the rate of mor- 
tality to be decreased. 

It was then affirmed that putrid infection was not an or- 
ganized ferment, that inferior organisms had in themselves 
no toxic action, in fact, that they were the result and not 
the cause of putrid alteration; whereupon Dr. Bouillaud, a 
contemporary of Dr. Piorry, called upon their new colleague 
to give his opinion on the subject. 

It would have been an act of graceful welcome to Pasteur, and 
a fitting homage to the memory of the celebrated Trousseau, who 
had died five years before, in 1867, if any member present had 
then quoted one of the great practitioner's last lectures at the 
Hotel Dieu, wherein he predicted a future for Pasteur's works: 

*'The great theory of ferments is therefore now connected 
with an organic function; every ferment is a germ, the life 
of which is manifested by a special secretion. It may be 
that it is so for morbid viruses; they may be ferments, which, 
deposited within the organism at a given moment and under 
determined circumstances, manifest themselves by divers prod- 
ucts. So will the variolous ferment produce variolic fer- 
mentation, giving birth to thousands of pustules, and likewise 
the virus of glanders, that of sheep pox, etc. . . . 

** Other viruses appear to act locally, but, nevertheless, they 
ultimately modify the whole organism, as do gangrene, ma- 
lignant pustula, contagious erysipelas, etc. May it not be 
supposed, under such circumstances, that the ferment or or- 
ganized matter of those viruses can be carried about by the 
lancet, the atmosphere or the linen bandages ? ' ' 

But it occurred to no one in the Academy to quote those 
forgotten words. 

Pasteur, answering Bouillaud, recalled his own researches 
on lactic and butyric fermentations and spoke of his studies 
on beer. He stated that the alteration of beer was due to 
the presence of filiform organisms; if beer becomes altered, 
it is because it contains germs of organized ferments. "The 
correlation is certain, indisputable, between the disease and 
the presence of organisms." He spoke those last words with 
so much emphasis that the stenographer who was taking down 
the extempore speeches underlined them. 


A few months later, on November 17, 1873, he read to the 
Academy a paper containing further developments of his prin- 
ciples. ^*In order that beer should become altered and become 
sour, putrid, slimy, 'ropy,' acid or lactic, it is necessary that 
foreign organisms should develop within it, and those or- 
ganisms only appear and multiply when those germs are 
already extant in the liquid mass." It is possible to oppose 
the introduction of those germs; Pasteur drew on the black- 
board the diagram of an apparatus which only communicated 
with the outer air by means of tubes fulfilling the office of 
the sinuous necks of the glass vessels he had used for his 
experiments on so-called spontaneous generation. He entered 
into every detail, demonstrating that as long as pure yeast 
alone had been sown, the security was absolute. ''That which 
has been put forward on the subject of a possible transforma^ 
tion of yeast into bacteria, vibriones, mycoderma aceti and 
vulgar mucors, or vice versa, is mistaken." 

He wrote in a private letter on the subject: "These simple 
and clear results have cost me many sleepless nights before 
presenting themselves before me in the precise form I have 
now given them." 

But his own conviction had not yet penetrated the minds 
of his adversaries, and M. Trecul was still supporting his 
hypothesis of transformations, the so-called proofs of which, 
according to Pasteur, rested on a basis of confused facts tainted 
with involuntary errors due to imperfect experiments. 

In December, 1873, at a sitting of the Academy, he pre- 
sented M. Trecul with a few little flagons, in which he had 
sown some pure seed of penicillium glaiicum., begging him to 
accept them and to observe them at his leisure, assuring him 
that it would be impossible to find a trace of any transformation 
of the spores into yeast cells. 

"When M. Trecul has finished the little task which I am 
soliciting of his devotion to the knowledge of truth," con- 
tinued Pasteur, "I shall give him the elements of a similar 
work on the mycoderma vini; in other words, I shall bring to 
M. Trecul some absolutely pure mycoderma vini with which 
he can reproduce his former experiments and recognize the 
exactness of the facts which I have lately announced." 

Pasteur concluded thus: "The Academy will allow me to 
make one last remark. It must be owned that my contra- 
diotors have been peculiarly unlucky in taking the occasioa 

1873—1877 231 

of my paper on the diseases of beer to renew this discussion. 
How is it they did not understand that my process for the 
fabrication of inalterable beer could not exist if beer wort in 
contact with air could present all the transformations of which 
they speak? And that work on beer, entirely founded as it 
is on the discovery and knowledge of some microscopic beings, 
has it not followed my studies on vinegar, on the mycoderma 
aceti and on the new process of acetification which I have in- 
vented? Has not that work been followed by my studies on 
the causes of wine diseases and the means of preventing them, 
still founded on the discovery and knowledge of non-spontane- 
ous microscopic beings? Have not these last researches been 
followed by the discovery of means to prevent the silkworm 
disease, equally deducted from the study of non-spontaneous 
microscopic beings? 

''Are not all the researches I have pursued for seventeen 
years, at the cost of many efforts, the product of the same 
ideas, the same principles, pushed by incessant toil into con- 
sequences ever new? The best proof that an observer is in 
the right track lies in the uninterrupted fruitfulness of his 

This fruitfulness was evidenced, not only by Pasteur's per- 
sonal labours, but by those he inspired and encouraged. Thus, 
in that same period, M. Gayon, a former student of the Ecole 
Normale, whom he had chosen as curator, started en some 
researches on the alteration of eggs. He stated that when 
an egg is stale, rotten, this is due to the presence and multi- 
plication of infinitesimally small beings; the germs of those 
organisms and the organisms themselves come from the ovi- 
duct of the hen and penetrate even into the points where the 
shell membrane and the albumen are formed. **The result 
is," concluded M. Gayon, ''that, during the formation of 
those various elements, the egg may or may not, according 
to circumstances, gather up organisms or germs of organisms, 
and consequently bear within itself, as soon as it is laid, the 
cause of ulterior alterations. It will be seen at the same 
time that the number of eggs susceptible of alteration may 
vary from one hen to another, as well as between the eggs of 
one hen, for the organisms to be observed on the oviduct rise 
to variable heights." 

If the organisms which alter the eggs and cause them to 
rot "were formed," said Pasteur, "by the spontaneous self- 


organization of the matter within the egg into those small 
beings, all eggs should putrefy equally, whereas they do not.'* 
At the end of M. Gay on 's thesis — which had not taken so 
long as Raulin's to prepare, only three years — we find the 
following conclusion: ** Putrefaction in eggs is correlative with 
the development and multiplication of beings which are bac- 
teria when in contact with air and vibriones when away from 
the contact of air. Eggs, from that point of view, do not 
depart from the general law discovered by M. Pasteur. '* 

Pasteur's influence was now spreading beyond the Labora- 
tory of Physiological Chemistry, as the small laboratory at the 
Ecole Normale was called. 

In the treatise he had published in 1862, criticizing the 
doctrine of spontaneous generation, he had mentioned, among 
the organisms produced by urine in putrefaction, the exist- 
ence of a torulacea in very smaU-grained chaplets. A physician, 
Dr. Traube, in 1864, had demonstrated that Pasteur was right 
in thinking that ammoniacal fermentation was due to this 
torulacea, whose properties were afterwards studied with in- 
finite care by M. Van Tieghem, a former student of the Ecole 
Normale, who had inspired Pasteur with a deep affection. 
Pasteur, in his turn, completed his own observations and 
assured himself that this little organized ferment was to be 
found in every case of ammoniacal urine. Finally, after prov- 
ing that boracic acid impeded the development of that am- 
moniacal ferment, he suggested to M. Guyon, the celebrated 
surgeon, the use of boracic acid for washing out the bladder; 
M. Guyon put the advice into practice with success, and attri- 
buted the credit of it to Pasteur. 

In a letter written at the end of 1873, Pasteur wrote: **How 
I wish I had enough health and sufficient knowledge to throw 
myself body and soul into the experimental study of one of 
our infectious diseases!" He considered that his studies on 
fermentations would lead him in that direction; he thought 
that when it should be made evident that every serious altera- 
tion in beer was due to the micro-organisms which find in 
that liquid a medium favourable to their development, when 
it should be seen that — in contradiction to the old ideas by 
which those alterations are looked upon as spontaneous, in- 
herent in those liquids, and depending on their nature and 
composition — the cause of those diseases is not interior but 
exterior, then would indeed be defeated the doctrine of men 

1873— 187T 233 

like Pidoux, who a propos of diseases, said: ''Disease is in 
as, of us, by us," and who, a propos of small-pox, even said 
that he was not certain that it could only proceed from inocula- 
tion and contagion. 

Though the majority of physicians and surgeons considered 
that it was waste of time to listen to ''a mere chemist," there 
was a small group of young men, undergraduates, who, in their 
thirst for knowledge, assembled at the Academic de Medecine 
every Tuesday, hoping that Pasteur might bring out one of 
his communications concerning a scientific method ''which 
resolves each difficulty by an easily interpreted experiment, 
delightful to the mind, and at the same time so decisive that 
it is as satisfying as a geometrical demonstration, and gives an 
impression of security." 

Those words were written by one of those who came to the 
Academic sittings, feeling that they were on the eve of some 
great revelations. He was a clinical assistant of Dr. Behier's. 
and, busy as he was with medical analysis, he was going over 
Pasteur's experiments on fermentations for his own edifica- 
tion. He was delighted with the sureness of the Pastorian 
methods, and was impatient to continue the struggle now begun. 
Enthusiasm was evinced in his brilliant eyes, in the timbre 
of his voice, clear, incisive, slightly imperious perhaps, and in 
his implacable desire for logic. Of solitary habits, with no 
ambition for distinction or degrees, he worked unceasingly for 
sheer love of science. The greatest desire of that young man 
of twenty-one, quite unknown to Pasteur, was to be one day 
admitted, in the very humblest rank, to the Ecole Normale 
laboratory. His name was Roux. 

Was not that medical student, that disciple lost in the crowd, 
an image of the new generation hungering for new ideas, more 
convinced than the preceding one had been of the necessity 
VI proofs? Struck by the unstable basis of medical theories, 
those young men divined that the secret of progress in hospitals 
was to be found in the laboratories. Medicine and surgery in 
those days were such a contrast to what they are now that it 
seems as if centuries divided them. No doubt one dav some 
professor, some medical historian, will give us a full account 
of that vast and immense progress. But, whilst awaiting a 
fully competent work of that kind, it is possible, even in a book 
such as this f which is, from many causes, but a hasty epitome 
of many very different things spread over a very simple 


biography), to give to a reader unfamiliar with such studies a 
certain idea of one of the most interesting chapters in the history 
of civilization, affecting the preservation of innumerable human 

*'A pin-prick is a door open to Death,*' said the surgeon 
Velpeau. That open door widened before the smallest opera- 
tion ; the lancing of an abscess or a whitlow sometimes had such 
serious consequences that surgeons hesitated before the slightest 
use of the bistoury. It was much worse when a great surgical 
intervention was necessary, though, through the irony of things, 
the immediate success of the most difficult operations was now 
guaranteed by the progress of skiU and the precious discovery 
of anesthesia. The patient, his will and consciousness sus- 
pended, awoke from the most terrible operation as from a 
dream. But at that very moment when the surgeon's art was 
emboldened by being able to disregard pain, it was arrested, 
disconcerted, and terrified by the fatal failures which super- 
vened after almost every operation. The words pyemia, 
gangrene, erysipelas, septicaemia, purulent infection, were 
bywords in those days. 

In the face of those terrible consequences, it had been 
thought better, about forty years ago, to discourage and even 
to prohibit a certain operation, then recently invented and prac- 
tised in England and America, ovariotomy, "even," said 
Velpeau, "if the reported cures be true." In order to express 
the terror inspired by ovariotomy, a physician went so far as 
to say Ihat it should be "classed among the attributes of the 

As it was supposed that the infected air of the hospitals 
might be the cause of the invariably fatal results of that opera- 
tion, the Assistance Publique ^ hired an isolated house in the 
Avenue de Meudon, near Paris, a salubrious spot. In 1863, 
ten women in succession were sent to that house; the neigh- 
bouring inhabitants watched those ten patients entering the 
house, and a short time afterwards their ten coffins being taken 
away. In their terrified ignorance they called that house the 
House of Crime. 

Surgeons were asking themselves whether they did not 
carry death with them, unconsciously scattering virus and 
subtle poisons. 

1 Assistance Puhlique, official organization of the charitable works 
supported by the State. [Trans.] 

1873—1877 235 

Since the beginning of the nineteenth centary, surgery had 
positively retrogra.ded ; the mortality after operations was in- 
finitely less in the preceding centuries, because antisepsis was 
practised unknowingly, though cauterizations by fire, boiling 
liquids and disinfecting substances. In a popular handbook 
published in 1749, and entitled Medicine and Surgery for the 
Poor, we read that wounds should be kept from the contact 
of air; it was also recommended not to touch the wound with 
fingers or instruments. **It is very salutary, when uncover- 
ing the wound in order to dress it, to begin by applying over 
its whole surface a piece of cloth dipped into hot wine or 
brandy.** Good results had been obtained by the great sur- 
geon Larrey, under the first Empire, by hot oil, hot brandy, 
and unfrequent dressings. But, under the influence of 
Broussais, the theory of inflammation caused a retrogression 
in surgery. Then came forth basins for making poultices, 
packets of charpie (usually made of old hospital sheets merely 
washed), and rows of pots of ointment. It is true that, during 
the second half of the last century, a few attempts were made 
to renew the use of alcoholized water for dressings. In 1868, 
at the time when the mortality after amputation in hospitals 
was over sixty per cent.. Surgeon Leon Le Fort banished 
sponges, exacted from his students scrupulous cleanliness and 
constant washing of hands and instruments before every 
operation, and employed alcoholized water for dressings. But 
though he obtained such satisfactory results as to lower, in 
his wards at the Hopital Cochin, the average of mortality 
after amputations to twenty-four per cent., his colleagues 
were very far from suspecting that the first secret for prevent- 
ing fatal results after operations consisted in a reform of 
the dressings. 

Those who visited an ambulance ward during the war of 
1870, especially those who were medical students, have pre- 
served such a recollection of the sight that they do not, even 
now, care to speak about it. It was perpetual agony, the 
wounds of all the patients were suppurating, a horrible fetor 
pervaded the place, and infectious septicaemia was everywhere. 
*'Pus seemed to germinate everywhere,'* said a student of that 
time (M. Landouzy, who became a professor at the Faculty 
of Medicine), "as if it had been sown by the surgeon." M. 
Landouzy ali?^ recalled the words of M. Denonvilliers, a sur- 
geon of xii^. Charite Hospital, whom he calls ''a splendid 


operator ... a virtuoso, and a dilettante in the art of operat- 
ing," who said to his pupils: ^'When an amputation seems 
necessary, think ten times about it, for too often, when we 
decide upon an operation, we sign the patient's death-war- 
rant." Another surgeon, who must have been profoundly 
discouraged in spite of his youthful energy, M. Yerneuil, ex- 
claimed: ''There were no longer any precise indications, any 
rational provisions; nothing was successful, neither abstention, 
conservation, restricted or radical mutilation, early or post* 
poned extraction of the buUets, dressings rare or frequent, 
emollient or excitant, dry or moist, with or without drainage; 
we tried everything in vain!'* During the siege of Paris, in 
the Grand Hotel, which had been turned into an ambulance, 
Nelaton, in despair at the sight of the death of almost every 
patient who had been operated on, declared that he who should 
conquer purulent infection would deserve a golden statue. 

It was only at the end of the war that it occurred to Alphonse 
Guerin — (who to his intense irritation was so often confounded 
with another surgeon, his namesake and opponent, Jules 
Guerin) — that ''the cause of purulent infection may perhaps 
be due to the germs or ferments discovered by Pasteur to 
exist in the air." Alphonse Guerin saw, in malarial fever, 
emanations of putrefied vegetable matter, and, in purulent 
infection, animal emanations, septic, and capable of causing 

"I thought more firmly than ever," he declared, ^'that 
the miasms emanating from the pus of the wounded were 
the real cause of this frightful disease, to which I had the 
sorrow of seeing the wounded succumb — ^whether their wounds 
were dressed with charpie and cerate or with alcoholized and 
carbolic lotions, either renewed several times a day or impreg- 
nating linen bandages which remained applied to the wounds. 
In my despair — ever seeking some means of preventing these 
terrible complications — I bethought me that the miasms, whose 
existence I admitted, because I could not otherwise explain 
the production of purulent infection — and which were only 
known to me by their deleterious influence — might well be 
living corpuscles, of the kind which Pasteur had seen in 
atmospheric air, and, from that moment, the history of mias- 
matic poisoning became clearer to me. If," I said, "miasms 
are ferments, I might protect the wounded from their fatal 
influence by filtering the air, as Pasteur did. I then con* 

1873— 187T 23T 

ceived the idea of cotton-wool dressings, and I had the satis- 
faction of seeing my anticipations realized.'^ 

After arresting the bleeding, ligaturing the blood vessels 
and carefully washing the wound with carbolic solution or 
camphorated alcohol, Alphonse Guerin applied thin layers of 
cotton wool, over which he placed thicker masses of the same, 
binding the whole with strong bandages of new linen. This 
dressing looked like a voluminous parcel and did not require 
to be removed for about twenty days. This was done at 
the St. Louis Hospital to the wounded of the Commune from 
March till June, 1871. Other surgeons learnt with amaze- 
ment that, out of thirty-four patients treated in that way, 
nineteen had survived operation. Dr. Reclus, who could not 
bring himself to believe it, said: "We had grown to look 
upon purulent infection as upon an inevitable and necessary 
disease, an almost Divinely instituted consequence of any 
important operation.^' 

There is a much greater danger than that of atmospheric 
germs, that of the contagium germ, of which the surgeon's 
hands; sponges and tools are the receptacle, if minute and 
infinite precautions are not taken against it. Such precau- 
tions were not even thought of in those days; charpie, odious 
charpie, was left lying about on hospital and ambulance 
tables, in contact with dirty vessels. It had, therefore, been 
sufficient to institute careful washing of the wounds, and es- 
pecially to reduce the frequency of dressings, and so diminish 
the chances of infection to obtain — thanks to a reform inspired 
by Pasteur's labours — this precious and unexpected remedy 
to fatalities subsequent to operations. In 1873, Alphonse 
Guerin, now a surgeon at the Hotel Dieu, submitted to Pasteur 
all the facts which had taken place at the hospital St. Louis 
where surgery was more '^active," he said, than at the 
Hotel Dieu; he asked him to come and see his cotton-wool 
dressings, and Pasteur gladly hastened to accept the invita- 
tion. It was with much pleasure that Pasteur entered upon 
this new period of visits to hospitals and practical discussions 
with his colleagues of the Academic de Medecine. His joy 
at the thought that he had been the means of awakening in 
other minds ideas likely to lead to the good of humanity was 
increased by the following letter from Lister, dated fron» 
Edinburgh, February 13, 1874, which is here reproduced h 
the original — • 


i ( 

My dear Sir — allow me to beg your acceptance of a pam. 
phlet, which I send by the same post, containing an account 
of some investigations into the subject which you have done 
so much to elucidate, the germ theory of fermentative changes. 
I flatter myself that you may read with some interest 
what I have written on the organism which you were the first 
to describe in your Memoir e sur la fermentation appelee 

^'I do not know whether the records of British Surgery 
ever meet your eye. If so, you will have seen from time to 
time notices of the antiseptic system of treatment, which I 
have been labouring for the last nine years to bring to per- 

*' Allow me to take this opportunity to tender you my most 
cordial thanks for having, by your brilliant researches, de- 
monstrated to me the truth of the germ theory of putrefaction, 
and thus furnished me with the principle upon which alone 
the antiseptic system can be carried out. Should you at any 
time visit Edinburgh, it would, I believe, give you sincere 
gratification to see at our hospital how largely mankind is being 
benefited by your labours. 

*'I need hardly add that it would afford me the highest 
gratification to show you how greatly surgery is indebted to 

** Forgive the freedom with which a common love of science 
inspires me, and 

** Believe me, with profound respect, 

** Yours very sincerely, 

'* Joseph Lister." 

In Lister *s wards, the instruments, sponges and other 
articles used for dressings were first of all purified in a strong 
solution of carbolic acid. The same precautions were taken 
for the hands of the surgeon and of his assistants. During the 
whole course of each operation, a vaporizer of carbolic solution 
created around the wound an antiseptic atmosphere; after it 
was over, the wound was again washed with the carbolic 
solution. Special articles were used for dressing: a sort 
of gauze, similar to tarlatan and impregnated with a mixture 
of resin, paraffin and carbolic, maintained an antiseptic atmo- 
sphere around the wound. Such was — in its main lines-^ 
Lister's method. 

1873—1877 239 

A medical student, M. Just Lucas-Championniere — who 
later on became an exponent in France of this method, and 
who described it in a valuable treatise published in 1876 — had 
already in 1869, after a journey to Glasgow, stated in the 
Journal de medecine et de chirurgie pratique what were those 
first principles of defence against gangrene — ''extreme and 
minute care in the dressing of w^ounds." But his isolated voice 
was not heard ; neither was any notice taken of a celebrated lec- 
ture given by Lister at the beginning of 1870 on the penetrating 
of germs into a purulent centre and on the utility of antisepsis 
applied to clinical practice. A few months before the war, 
Tyndall, the great English physicist, alluded to this lecture in 
an article entitled ''Dusts and Diseases," which w^as published 
by the Revue des cours scientifiques. But the heads of the pro- 
fession in France had at that time absolute confidence in them- 
selves, and nobody took any interest in the rumour of success 
attained by the antiseptic method. Yet, between 1867 and 
1869, thirty-four of Lister's patients out of forty had survived 
after amputation. It is impossible on reading of this not to feel 
an immense sadness at the thought of the hundreds and 
thousands of young men who perished in ambulances and hospi- 
tals during the fatal year, and who might have been saved by 
Lister's method. In his own country, Lister had also been 
violently criticized. "People turned into ridicule Lister's 
minute precautions in the dressing of wounds," writes a com- 
petent judge. Dr. Auguste Keaudin, a professor at the Geneva 
Faculty of Medicine, "and those who lost nearly all their 
patients by poulticing them had nothing but sarcasms for the 
man who was so infinitely superior to them." Lister, with 
his calm courage and smiling kindliness, let people talk, and 
endeavoured year by year to perfect his method, testing it 
constantly and improving it in detail. No one, however 
sceptical, whom he invited to look at his results, could preserve 
his scepticism in the face of such marked success. 

Some of his opponents thought to attack him on another 
point by denying him the priority of the use of carbolic acid. 
Lister never claimed that priority, but his enemies took 
pleasure in recalling that Jules Lemaire, in 1860, had proposed 
the use of w^eak carbolic solution for the treatment of open 
wounds, and that the same had been prescribed by Dr. Declat 
in 1861, and also by Maisonneuve, Dcmarquay and others. 
The fact that should have been proclaimed wa>5 that Lister 


had created a surgical method which was in itself an immense 
and beneficial progress; and Lister took pleasure in declaring 
that he owed to Pasteur the principles which had guided him. 

At the time when Pasteur received the letter above quoted, 
which gave him deep gratification, people in France were so 
far from all that concerned antisepsis and asepsis, that, when 
he advised surgeons at the Academic de Medecine to put 
their instruments through a flame before using them, they did 
not understand what he meant, and he had to explain — 

''I mean that surgical instruments should merely be put 
through a flame, not really heated, and for this reason: if a 
sound were examined with a microscope, it would be seen that 
its surface presents grooves where dusts are harboured, which 
cannot be completely removed even by the most careful 
cleansing. Fire entirely destroys those organic dusts; in my 
laboratory, where I am surrounded by dust of all kinds, I 
never make use of an instrument without previously putting 
it through a flame." 

Pasteur was ever ready to help others, giving them willing 
advice or information. In November, 1874, when visiting 
the Hotel Dieu with Messrs. Larrey and Gosselin, he had 
occasion to notice that a certain cotton-wool dressing had been 
very badly done by a student in one of Guerin's wards. A 
wound on the dirty hand of a labouring man had been 
bandaged with cotton wool without having been washed in 
any way. When the bandaging was removed in the presence 
of Guerin, the pus exhaled a repugnant odour, and was found 
vO swarm with vibriones. Pasteur in a sitting of the Academic 
des Sciences, entered into details as to the precautions which 
are necessary to get rid of the germs originally present on 
the surface of the wound or of the cotton wool; he declared 
that the layers of cotton wool should be heated to a very high 
temperature. He also suggested the following experiment: 
^'In order to demonstrate the evil influence of ferments and 
proto-organisms in the suppuration of wounds, I would make 
two identical wounds on the two symmetrical limbs of an 
animal under chloroform; on one of those wounds I would 
apply a cotton-wool dressing with every possible precaution; 
on the other, on the contrary, I would cultivate, so to speak, 
micro-organisms abstracted from a strange sore, and offering, 
more or less, a septic character. 

''Finally, I should like to cut open a wound on an animal 

1873—1877 241 

under chloroform in a very carefully selected part of the body 
— for the experiment would be a very delicate one — and in 
absolutely pure air, that is, air absolutely devoid of any kind 
of germs, afterwards maintaining a pure atmosphere around 
the wound, and having recourse to no dressing whatever. I 
am inclined to think that perfect healing would ensue under 
such conditions, for there would be nothing to hinder the work 
of repair and reorganization which must be accomplished on 
the surface of a wound if it is to heal.'* 

He explained in that way the advantage accruing to 
hygiene, in hospitals and elsewhere, from infinite precautions 
of cleanliness and the destroying of infectious germs. Himself 
a great investigator of new ideas, he intended to compel his 
colleagues at the Academic de Medecine to include the patho- 
genic share of the infinitesiraally small among matters de- 
manding the attention of medicine and surgery. The struggle 
was a long, unceasing and painful one. In February, 1875, 
his presence gave rise to a discussion on ferments, which 
lasted until the end of March. In the course of this discus- 
sion he recalled the experiments he had made fifteen years 
before, describing how — in a liquid composed of mineral 
elements, apart from the contact of atmospheric air and 
previously raised to ebullition — vibriones could be sown and 
subsequently seen to flourish and multiply, offering the sight 
of those two important phenomena: life without air, and 

**They are far behind us now," he said; **they are now 
relegated to the rank of chimeras, those theories of fermenta- 
tion imagined by Berzelius, Mitscherlich, and Liebig, and re- 
edited with an accompaniment of new hypotheses by Messrs. 
Pouchet, Fremy, Trecul, and Bechamp. Who would now 
dare to affirm that fermentations are contact phenomena, 
phenomena of motion, communicated by an altering albuminoid 
matter, or phenomena produced by semi-organized materia, 
transforming themselves into this or into ttiat? All those 
creations of fancy fall to pieces before this simple and decisive 

Pasteur ended up his speech by an unexpected attack on 
the pompous etiquette of the Academy's usual proceedings, 
urging his colleagues to remain within the bounds of 9- 
scientific discussion instead of making flowery speeches. He 
was much applauded, and his exhortation taken in good part. 


His colleagues also probably sympathized with his irritation 
in hearing a member of the assembly, M. Poggiale, formerly 
apothecary in chief to the Val de Grace, give a somewhat 
sceptical dissertation on such a subject as spontaneous genera- 
tion, saying disdainfully — 

*'M. Pasteur has told us that he had looked for spontaneous 
generation for twenty years without finding it; he will long 
continue to look for it, and, in spite of his courage, perse- 
verance and sagacity, I doubt whether he ever will find it. 
It is almost an unsolvable question. However those who, like 
me, have no fixed opinion on the question of spontaneous 
generation reserve the right of verifying, of sifting and of 
disputing new facts, as they appear, one by one and wherever 
they are produced/' 

**What!" cried Pasteur, wrathful whenever those great 
questions were thoughtlessly tackled, "what! I have been foi- 
twenty years engaged in one subject and I am not to have an 
opinion ! and the right of verifying, sifting, and disputing the 
facts is to belong to him who does nothing to become en- 
lightened but merely to read our works more or less attentively, 
his feet on his study fender ! ! ! 

*'You have no opinion on spontaneous generation, my dear 
colleague; I can well believe that, while regretting it. I am 
not speaking, of course, of those sentimental opinions that 
everybody has, more or less, in questions of this nature, for 
in this assembly we do not go in for sentiment. You say that, 
in the present state of science, it is wiser to have no opinion: 
well, I have an opinion, not a sentimental one, but a rational 
one, having acquired a right to it by twenty years of assiduous 
labour, and it would be wise in every impartial mind to share 
it. My opinion — nay, more, my conviction — is that, in the 
present state of science, as you rightly say, spontaneous gene- 
ration is a chimera; and it would be impossible for you to 
contradict me, for my experiments all stand forth to prove 
that spontaneous generation is a chimera. "What is then 
your judgment on my experiments? Have I not a hundred 
times placed organic matter in contact with pure air in the 
best conditions for it to produce life spontaneously? Have 
I not practised on those organic materia which are most 
favourable, according to all accounts, to the genesis of spon- 
taneity, such as blood, urine, and grape juice? How is it 
that you do not see the essential difference between my op' 

1873—1877 243 

ponents and myself? Not only have I contradicted, proof in 
hand, every one of their assertions, while they have never dared 
to seriously contradict one of mine, but, for them, every cause 
of error benefits their opinion. For me, affirming as I do 
that there are no spontaneous fermentations, I am bound 
to eliminate every cause of error, every perturbing influence, 
I can maintain my results only by means of most irreproach- 
able experiments; their opinions, on the contrary, profit by 
every insufficient experiment and that is where they find their 

Pasteur having been abruptly addressed by a colleague, 
who remarked that there were yet many unexplained facts in 
connection with fermentation, he answered by thus apostro* 
phizing his adversaries — 

**What is then your idea of the progress of Science? 
Science advances one step, then another, and then draws back 
and meditates before taking a third. Does the impossibility 
of taking that last step suppress the success acquired by the 
two others? Would you say to an infant who hesitated before 
a third step, having ventured on two previous ones: **Thy 
former efforts are of no avail; never shalt thou walk'? 

*'You wish to upset what you call my theory, apparently in 
order to defend another ; allow me to tell you by what signs these 
theories are recognized: the characteristic of erroneous theories 
is the impossibility of ever foreseeing new facts ; whenever such 
a fact is discovered, those theories have to be grafted with 
further hypotheses in order to account for them. True 
theories, on the contrary, are the expression of actual facts 
and are characterized by being able to predict new facts, 
a natural consequence of those already known. In a word, 
the characteristic of a true theory is its fruitfulness.*' 

"Science,'' said he again at the following sitting of the 
Academy, *' should not concern itself in any way with the 
philosophical consequences of its discoveries. If through the 
development of my experimental studies I come to demonstrate 
that matter can organize itself of its own accord into a cell 
or into a living being, I would come here to proclaim it with 
the legitimate pride of an inventor conscious of having made 
a great discovery, and I would add, if provoked to do so, *A11 
the worse for those whose doctrines or systems do not fit in 
with the truth of the natural facts.' 

**It was with similaj pride that I defied my opponents to 


contradict me when I said, *In the present state of science 
the doctrine of spontaneous generation is a chimera.' And 
I add, with similar independence, 'All the worse for those 
whose philosophical or political ideas are hindered by my 
studies. ' 

*'This is not to be taken to mean that, in my beliefs and in 
the conduct of my life, I only take account of acquired science : 
if I would, I could not do so, for I should then have to strip 
myself of a part of myself. There are two men in each one 
of us: the scientist, he who starts with a clear field and 
desires to rise to the knowledge of Nature through observa- 
tion, experimentation and reasoning, and the man of senti- 
ment, the man of belief, the man who mourns his dead 
children, and who cannot, alas, prove that he will see them 
«gain, but who believes that he will, and lives in that hope, 
the man who will not die like a vibrio, but who feels that 
the force that is within him cannot die. The two domains are 
distinct, and woe to him who tries to let them trespass on each 
other in the so imperfect state of human knowledge." 

And that separation, as he understood it, caused in him 
none of those conflicts which often determine a crisis in a 
human soul. As a scientist, he claimed absolute liberty of 
research; he considered, with Claude Bernard and Littre, that 
it was a mistaken waste of time to endeavour to penetrate 
primary causes; '*we can only note correlations," he said. 
But, with the spiritual sentiment which caused him to claim 
for the inner moral life the same liberty as for scientific re- 
search, he could not understand certain givers of easy explana- 
tions who affirm that matter has organized itself, and who, 
considering as perfectly simple the spectacle of the Universe 
of which Earth is but an infinitesimal part, are in no wise 
moved by the Infinite Power who created the worlds. With 
his whole heart he proclaimed the immortality of the soul. 

Has mode of looking upon human life, in spite of sorrows, 
of struggles, of heavy burdens, had in it a strong element of 
consolation: *'No effort is wasted," he said, giving thus a 
most virile lesson of philosophy to those inferior minds who 
only see immediate results in the work they undertake and are 
discouraged by the first disappointment. In his respect for 
the great phenomena of Conscience, by which almost all 
men, enveloped as they are in the mystery of the Universe, 
have the prescience of an Ideal of a (^nd, h^ considered that 

1873—1877 245 

*'the greatness of human actions can be measured by the inspi- 
rations which give them birth." He was convinced that there 
are no vain prayers. If all is simple to the simple, all is 
great to the great; it was through "the Divine regions of 
Knowledge and of Light" that he had visions of those who are 
no more. 

It was very seldom that he spoke of such things, though 
he was sometimes induced to do so in the course of a dis- 
cussion so as to manifest his repugnance for vainglorious 
negations and barren irony; sometimes too he would enter into 
such feelings when speaking to an assembly of young men. 

Those discussions at the Academy of Medicine had the 
advantage of inciting medical men to the research of the 
infinitesimally small, described by the Annual Secretary 
Roger as ** those subtle artisans of many disorders in the 
living economy." 

M. Roger, at the end of a brief account of his colleague's 
work, wrote, **To the signal services rendered by M. Pasteur 
to science and to our country, it was but fair that a signal re- 
compense should be given: the National Assembly has under- 
taken that care." 

That recompense, voted a few months previously, was the 
third national recompense accorded to French scientists since 
the beginning of the century. In 1837, Arago, before the 
Chamber of Deputies, and Gay Lussac, before the Chamber 
of Peers, had obtained a glorious recognition of the services 
rendered by Daguerre and Niepce. In 1845 another national 
recompense was accorded, to M. Vicat, the engineer. In 1874, 
Paul Bert, a member of the National Assembly, gladly re- 
porting on the projected law tending to offer a national 
recompense to Pasteur, wrote quoting those precedents : 

'*Such an assurance of gratitude, given by a nation to men 
who have made it richer and more illustrious, honours it at 
least as much as it does them. ..." Paul Bert continued 
by enumerating Pasteur's discoveries, and spoke of the millions 
Pasteur had assured to France, ''without retaining the least 
share of them for himself." In sericiculture alone, the losses 
in twenty years, before Pasteur's interference, rose to 1,500 
millions of francs. 

*'M. Pasteur's discoveries, gentlemen," concluded Paul 
Bert, ** after throwing a new light on the obscure question of 
fermentations and of the mode of appearance of microscopic 


beings, have revolutionized certain branches of industry, of 
agriculture, and of pathology. One is struck with admiration 
when seeing that so many, and such divers results, proceed^ 
through an unbroken chain of facts, nothing being left to 
hypothesis — from theoretical studies on the manner in which 
tartaric acid deviates polarized light. Never was the famous 
saying, ^Genius consists in sufficient patience,' more amply 
justified. The Government now proposes that you should 
honour this admirable combination of theoretical and practical 
study by a national recompense ; your Commission unani- 
mously approves of this proposition. 

*'The suggested recompense consists in a life annuity of 
12,000 francs, which is the approximate amount of the salary 
of the Sorbonne professorship, which M. Pasteur's ill health 
has compelled him to give up. It is indeed small when com- 
pared with the value of the services rendered, and your 
Commission much regrets that the state of our finances does 
not allow us to increase that amount. But the Commission 
agrees with its learned chairman (M. Mares) 'that the eco- 
nomic and hygienic results of M. Pasteur's discoveries will 
presently become so considerable that the French nation will 
desire to increase later on its testimony of gratitude towards 
him and towards Science, of which he is one of the most 
glorious representatives.' " 

Half the amount of the annuity was to revert to Pasteur's 
widow. The Bill was passed by 532 votes against 24. 

** Where is the government which has secured such a 
majority?" wrote Pasteur's old friend Chappuis, now Rector 
of the Grenoble Academy. The value of the recompense 
was certainly much enhanced by the fact that the Assembly, 
divided upon so many subjects, had been almost unanimous 
in its feeling of gratitude towards him who had laboured so 
hard for Science, for the country and for Humanity. 

"Bravo, my dear Pasteur: I am glad for you and for 
myself, and proud for us all. Your devoted friend, Sainte 
Claire Deville." 

''You are going to be a happy scientist," wrote M. Duclaux, 
"for you can already see, and you will see more and more, the 
triumph of your doctrines and of your discoveries." 

Those who imagined that this national recompense was the 
close of a great chapter, perhaps even the last chapter of the 
book of his life, gave him, in their well-meaning ignorance, 

1873—1877 20 

some advice which highly irritated him: they advised him to 
rest. It is true that his cerebral hemorrhage had left him 
with a certain degree of lameness and a slight stiffness of the 
left hand, those external signs reminding him only too well 
of the threatening possibility of another stroke ; but his mighty 
soul was more than ever powerful to master his infirm body. 
It was therefore evident that Nisard, usually very subtle in his 
insight into character, did not thoroughly understand Pasteur 
when he wrote to him, "Now, dear friend, you must give up 
your energies to living for your family, for all those who love 
you, and a little too for yourself." 

In spite of his deep, even passionate tenderness for his 
family, Pasteur had other desires than to limit his life to such 
a narrow circle. Every man who knows he has a mission to 
fulfil feels that there are rays of a light purer and jnore 
exalted than that proceeding from the hearth. As to the 
suggestion that Pasteur should take care of his own health, 
it was as useless as it would be to advise certain men to take 
care of that of others. 

Dr. Andral had vainly said and written that he should for- 
bid Pasteur any assiduous labour. Pasteur considered that 
not to work was to lose the object of living at all. If, however, 
a certain equilibrium was established between the anxious 
solicitude of friends, the prohibitions of medical advisers and 
the great amount of work which Pasteur insisted on doing, it 
was owing to her who with a discreet activity watched in 
silence to see that nothing outside his work should complicate 
Pasteur's life, herself his most precious collaborator, the con- 
fidante of ever}^ experiment. 

Everything was subordinate to the laboratory; Pasteur 
never accepted an invitation to those large social gatherings 
which are a tax laid by those who have nothing to do on the 
time of those who are busy, especially if they be celebrated. 
Pasteur's name, known throughout the world, was tiever men- 
tioned in fashionable journals; he did not even go to theatres. 
In the evening, after dinner, he usually perambulated the 
hall and corridor of his rooms at the Ecole Normale, cogitating 
over various details of his work. At ten o'clock, he went to 
bed, and at eight the next morning, whether he had had a 
good night or a bad one, he resumed his work in the laboratory. 

That regular life, preserving its even tenor through so many 
polemics and discussions, was momentarily perturbed by 


politics in January, 1876. Pasteur, who, in his extra- 
ordinary, almost disconcerting modesty, believed that a medi- 
cal diploma would have facilitated his scientific revolution, 
imagined — after the pressing overtures made to him by some 
of his proud compatriots — that he would be able to serve more 
usefully the cause of higher education if he were to obtain a 
seat at the Senate. 

He addressed from Paris a letter to the senatorial electors 
of the department of Jura. *'I am not a political man," he 
said, **I am bound to no party; not having studied politics I 
am ignorant of many things, but I do know this, that I love 
my country and have served her with all my strength." Like 
many good citizens, he thought that a renewal of the national 
grandeur and prosperity might be sought in a serious experi- 
mental trial of the Republic. If honoured with the suffrages 
of his countrymen, he would ** represent in the Senate, Science 
in all its purity, dignity and independence." Two Jura 
newspapers, of different opinions, agreed in regretting that 
Pasteur should leave ''the peaceful altitudes of science,'* 
and come down into the Jura to solicit the electors' suffrages. 

In his answers to such articles, letters dictated to his son — 
who acted as his secretary during that electoral campaign and 
accompanied him to Lons-le-Saulnier, where they spent a 
week, published addresses, posters, etc. — Pasteur invoked the 
following motto, ''Science et Patrie.'' Why had France been 
victorious in 1792? ''Because Science had given to our 
fathers the material means of fighting." And he recalled the 
names of Monge, of Carnot, of Fourcroy, of Guyton de Mor- 
veau, of Berthollet, that concourse of men of science, thanks 
to whom it had been possible — during that grandiose epoch — 
to hasten the working of steel and the preparation of leather 
for soldiers' boots, and to find means of extracting saltpetre 
for gunpowder from plaster rubbish, of making use of recon- 
noitring balloons and of perfecting telegraphy. 

The senatorial electors numbered 650. Jules Grevy came 
to Lons-le-Saulnier to support the candidature of MM. Tami- 
sier and Thurel. In a meeting which took place the day before 
the election he said, "You will give them your suffrage to- 
morrow, and in so doing you will have deserved well of the 
Republic and of France." He mentioned, incidentally, that 
'*M. Pasteur's character and scientific work entitle him to 
xmiversal respect and esteem; but Science has its natural plac^ 

1873—1877 249 

ttt the Institute/* he added, insisting on the Senate's political 
attributes. Grevy's intervention in favour of his two candi- 
dates was decisive. M. Tamisier obtained 446 votes, M, 
Thurel 445, General Picard 113, M. Besson, a monarchist, 
153, Pasteur 62 only. 

He had received on that very morning a letter from his 
daughter, wishing him a failure — a bright, girlish letter, frankly 
expressing the opinion that her father could be most useful to 
his country by confining himself to laboratory work, and that 
politics would necessarily hinder such work. 

It was easy to be absolutely frank with Pasteur, who 
willingly accepted every truthful statement. No man was 
,?ver more beloved, more admired and less flattered in his own 
home than he was. 

*'What a wdse judge you are, my dearest girl!'' answered 
Pasteur the same evening; **you are perfectly right. But I 
am not sorry to have seen all this, and that your brother should 
have seen it; all knowledge is useful." 

That little incursion into the domain of politics was ren- 
dered insignificant in Pasteur's life by the fact that his long- 
desired object was almost reached. Three months later, at the 
distribution of prizes of the Concours Generaly the Minister of 
Public Instruction pronounced a speech, of which Pasteur pre- 
served the text, underlining with his own hand the following 
passages: "Soon, I hope, we shall see the Schools of Medicine 
and of Pharmacy reconstructed; the College de France pro- 
vided with new laboratories; the Faculty of Medicine trans- 
ferred and enlarged, and the ancient Sorbonne itself restored 
and extended." 

And while the Minister spoke of "those higher studies of 
Philosophy, of History, of disinterested Science which are the 
glory of a nation and an honour to the human mind . . . which 
must retain the first rank to shed their serene light over inferior 
studies, and to remind men of the true goal and the true 
grandeur of human intelligence. ..." Pasteur could say to 
himself that the great cause which he had pleaded since he 
was mnde Dean of Faculty at Lille in 1854, which he had sup- 
ported in 1868 and r.^ain on the morrow of the war, was at last 
about to be won in 1876. 

He had a patriotic treat during the summer holidays of that 
same year. A grc^at international congress of sericiculture was 
gathered at ]\Iikn; there were delegates from Russia, Austria, 


Italy and France, and Pasteur represented France. He was 
accompanied by his former pupils, his associates in his silk- 
worm studies, Duclaux and Raulin, both of whom had become 
professors at the Lyons Facult}^ of Sciences, and Maillot, who 
was then manager of the silkworm establishment of Mont- 
pellier. The members of the Congress had been previously 
informed of the programme of questions, and each intending 
speaker was aimed with facts and observations. The open 
discussions allowed Duclaux, Raulin and Maillot to demon- 
strate the strictness and perfection of the experimental method 
which they had learned from their master and which they were 
teaching in their turn. 

Excursions formed a delightful interlude; one on the lake of 
Como was an enchantment. Then the French delegates were 
offered the pleasant surprise of a visit to an immense seeding 
establishment in the neighbourhood of Milan, which had beeu; 
named after Pasteur. *We have an account of this visit in a 
letter to J. B. Diunas (September 17). 

**My dear Master ... I very much regret that you are not 
here: you would have shared my satisfaction. I am dating 
my letter from Milan, but in reality, the congress being ended, 
we are staying at Signor Susani's country house for a few days. 
Here, from July 4, sixtj' or seventy women are busy for ten 
hours every day with microscopic examinations of absolute 
accuracy. I never saw a better arranged establishment. 
400,000 moth cells are put under the microscope every day. 
The order and cleanliness are admirable; any error is made 
impossible by the organization of a second test following the 

*^I felt, in seeing my name in large letters on the fagade of 
that splendid establishment, a joy which compensates for much 
of the frivolous opposition I have encountered from some of 
my countrymen these last few years; it is a spontaneous 
homage from the proprietor to my studies. Many sericicultors 
do their seeding themselves, by selection, or have it done by 
competent workers accustomed to the operation. The harvest 
from that excellent seed depends on the climate only; in a 
moderately favourable season the production often reaches fifty 
or seventy kilogrammes per ounce of twenty-five grammes.'* 

Signor Susani was looking forward to producing for that one 
year 30,000 ounces of seed. In the presence of the prodigious 
activity of this veritable factory — where, besides the microscope 

1873—1877 251 

women, more than one hundred persons were occupied in various 
ways, washing the mortars with which the moths are pounded 
before being put under the microscopes, cleansing the slides, 
etc. ; in fact, doing those various delicate but simple operations 
which had formerly been pronounced to be impracticable — 
Pasteur's thoughts went back to his experiments in the Pont- 
Gisquet greenhouse, to the modest beginnings of his process, 
now so magnificently applied in Italy. A month before this, 
J. B. Dumas, presiding at a scientific meeting at Clermont 
Ferrand, had said — 

''The future belongs to Science; woe to the nations who 
close their eyes to this fact. . . . Let us call to our aid on this 
neutral and pacific ground of Natural Philosophy, where defeats 
cost neither blood nor tears, those hearts which are moved by 
their country 's grandeur ; it is by the exaltation of science that 
France will recover her prestige.'^ 

Those same ideas were expressed in a toast given by Pasteur 
in the name of France at a farewell banquet, when the 300 
members of the Sericiculture Congress were present. 

*' Gentlemen, I propose a toast — To the peaceful strife of 
Science. It is the first time that I have the honour of being 
present on foreign soil at an international congress; I ask my- 
self what are the impressions produced in me, besides these 
courteous discussions, by the brilliant hospitality of the noble 
Milanese city, and I find myself deeply impressed by two 
propositions. First, that Science is of no nationality; and 
secondly, in apparent, but only in apparent, contradiction, that 
Science is the highest personification of nationality. Science 
has no nationality because knowledge is the patrimony of 
humanity, the torch which gives light to the world. Science 
should be the highest personification of nationality because, of 
all the nations, that one will always be foremost which shall 
be first to progress by the labours of thought and of intelligence. 

"Let us therefore strive in the pacific field of Science for the 
pre-eminence of our several countries. Let us strive, for strife 
is effort, strife is life when progress is the goal. 

"You Italians, try to multiply on the soil of your beautiful 
and glorious country the Tecchi, the Brioschi, the Tacchini, 
the Sella, the Cornalia. . . . You, proud children of Austria- 
Hungary, follow even more firmly than in the past the fruitful 
impulse which an eminent statesman, now your representative 
at the Court of England, has given to Science and Agriculture. 


We, who are here present, do not forget that the first sericicuL 
ture establishment was founded in Austria. As to you, 
Japanese, may the cultivation of Science be numbered among 
the chief objects of your care in the amazing social and political 
transformation of which you are giving the marvellous spec- 
tacle to the world. We Frenchmen, bending under the sorrow 
of our mutilated country, should show once again that great 
trials may give rise to great thoughts and great actions. 

"I drink to the peaceful strife of Science." 

**You will find, '^ wrote Pasteur to Dumas, telling him of 
this toast, which had been received with enthusiastic applause, 
*'an echo of the feelings with which you have inspired your 
pupils on the grandeur and the destiny of Science in modern 

The tender and delicate side of this powerful spirit was thus 
once again apparent in this deference to his master in the midst 
of acclamations, and in' those deep and noble ideas expressed 
in the middle of a noisy banquet. But it was chiefly in his 
private life that his open-heartedness, his desire to love and 
to be loved, became apparent. That great genius had a child- 
like heart, and the charm of this was incomparable. 

He once said: "The recompense and the ambition of a 
scientist is to conquer the approbation of his peers and of the 
masters whom he venerates." He had already known that 
recompense and could satisfy that ambition. Dumas had 
known and appreciated him for thirty years; Lister had pro- 
claimed his gratitude; Tyndall — an indefatigable excursionist, 
who loved to survey wide horizons, and who in his celebrated 
classes was wont to make use of comparisons with altitudes 
and heights and everything which opens a clear and vast out- 
look — had a great admiration for the wide development of Pas- 
teur's work. Now, Pasteur's experiments had been strongly 
attacked by a young English physician. Dr. Bastian, who had 
excited in the English and American public a bitter prejudice 
against the results announced by Pasteur on the subject of 
spontaneous generation. 

*'The confusion and uncertainty," wrote Tyndall to Pas- 
teur, ' ' have finally become such that, six months ago, I thought 
that it would be rendering a service to Science, at the same 
time as justice to yourself, if the question were subjected to 9 
fresh investigation. 

Putting into practice an idea which I had entertained s^*x 

( i 

1873->1877 258 

jF^ars ago — the details of which are set out in the article in the 
British Medical Journal Tvhich I had the pleasure to send you — 
I went over a large portion of the ground on which Dr. Bastian 
had taken up his stand, and refuted, I think, many of the fal- 
lacies which had misled the public. 

**The change which has taken place since then in the tone 
of the English medical journals is quite remarkable, and I am 
disposed to think that the general confidence of the public in 
the accuracy of Dr. Bastian 's experiments has been consider- 
ably^ shaken. 

"In taking up these investigations, I have had the oppor- 
tunity of refreshing my memory about your labours ; they have 
reawakened in me all the admiration which I felt for them 
when I first read of them. I intend to continue these investiga- 
tions until I have dispersed all the doubts which may have 
arisen as to the indisputable accuracy of your conclusions." 

And Tyndall added a paragraph for which Pasteur modestly 
'Substituted asterisks in communicating this letter to the 

"For the first time in the history of Science we have the 
fight to cherish the sure and certain hope that, as regards epi- 
demic diseases, medicine will soon be delivered from quackery 
^nd placed on a real scientific basis. When that day arrives, 
Humanity, in my opinion, will know how to recognize that it is 
to you that will be due the largest share of her gratitude.'* 

Tyndall was indeed qualified to sign this passport to immor- 
tality. But in the meanwhile a struggle was necessary, and 
Pasteur did not wish to leave the burden of the discussion even 
on such shoulders as Tvndall's ! Moreover he was interested 
in his opponent. 

"Dr. Bastian," writes M. Duclaux, "had some tenacity, a 
fertile mind, and the love, if not the gift, of the experimental 
method." The discussion was destined to last for months. 
In general (according to J. B. Dumas' calculation) "at the end 
of ten years, judgment on a great thing is usually formed; it 
is by then an accomplished fact, an idea adopted by Science or 
irrevocably repudiated." Pasteur, on the morrow of the Milan 
Congress, might feel that it had been so for the adoption of his 
.system of cellular seeding, but such was not the case in this 
>Juestion of spontaneous generation. The quarrel had started 
Again at the Academy of Sciences and at the Academy of Medi- 
cine; it was now being revived in En£rland, and Bastian pro- 


posed to come jiimself and experiment in the laboratory of 
the Ecole Normale. 

''For nearly twenty years/' said Pasteur, **I have pursued, 
without finding it, a proof of life existing without an anterior 
and similar life. The consequences of such a discovery would 
be incalculable; natural science in general, and medicine and 
philosophy in particular, would receive therefrom an impulse 
which cannot be foreseen. Therefore, whenever I hear that 
this discovery has been made, I hasten to verify the assertions 
of my fortunate rival. It is true that I hasten towards him 
with some degree of mistrust, so many times have I experienced 
that, in the difficult art of experimenting, the very cleverest 
stagger at every step, and that the interpretation of facts is no 
less perilous." 

Dr. Bastian operated on acid urine, boiled and neutralized 
by a solution of potash heated to a temperature of 120° C. If, 
after the flask of urine had cooled down, it was heated to a 
temperature of 50° C. in order to facilitate the development of 
germs, the liquid in ten hours' time swarmed with bacteria. 
''Those facts prove spontaneous generation,'* said Dr. Bastian. 

Pasteur invited him to replace his boiled solution of potash by 
a fragment of solid potash, after heating it to 110° C, in order to 
avoid the bacteria germs which might be contained in the 
aqueous solution. This question of the germs of inferior 
organisms possibly contained in water was — during the course 
of that protracted discussion — studied by Pasteur with the assist- 
ance of M. Joubert, Professor of Physics at the College Rollin. 
Such germs were to be found even in the distilled water of labo- 
ratories; it was sufficient that the water should be poured in a 
thin stream through the air to become contaminated. Spring 
water, if slowly filtered through a solid mass of ground, alone 
contained no germs. 

There was also the question of the urine and that of the re- 
cipient. The urine, collected by Dr. Bastian in a vase and 
placed into a retort, neither of which had been put through a 
flame, might contain spores of a bacillus called bacillus suhtilis, 
which offer a great resistance to the action of heat. Those 
spores do not develop in notably acid liquids, but the liquid hav- 
ing been neutralized or rendered slightly alkaline by the potash, 
the development of germs took place. The thing therefore to 
be done was to collect the urine in a vase and introduce it into 
a retort both of which had been put through a flame. After 

1873— 187T 255 

that, DO organisms were produced, as was stated in the thesis 
of M. Chamberland, then a curator at the laboratory, and who 
■*;ook an active part in these experiments. 

A chapter might well have been written by a moralist *'0n 
the use of certain opponents"; for it was through that discus- 
sion with Bastian that it was discovered how it was that — at 
the time of the celebrated discussions on spontaneous genera- 
tion — the heterogenists, Pouchet, Joly, and Musset, operating 
as Pasteur did, but in a different medium, obtained results ap- 
parently contradictory to Pasteur's. If their flasks, filled with 
a decoction of hay, almost constantly showed germs, whilst Pas- 
teur's, full of yeast water, were always sterile, it was because 
the hay water contained spores of the bacillus subtilis. The 
spores remained inactive as long as the liquid was preserved 
from the contact of air, but as soon as oxygen re-entered the 
flask they were able to develop. 

The custom of raising liquids to a temperature of 120° C. 
in order to sterilize them dates from that conflict with Bastian. 
*'But," writes M. Duclaux, ''the heating of 120° of a flask 
half filled with liquid can sterilize the liquid part only, 
allowing life to persist in those regions which are not in contact 
with the liquid. In order to destroy everything, the dry walls 
must be heated to 180° C." 

A former pupil of the Ecole Normale, who had been a curator 
in Pasteur's laboratory since October, 1876, Boutroux by name, 
who witnessed all these researches, wrote in his thesis: *'The 
knowledge of these facts makes it possible to obtain absolutely 
pure neutral culture mediums, and, in consequence, to study 
as many generations as are required of one unmixed micro- 
organism, whenever pure seed has been procured.'* 

Pasteur has defined what he meant by putting tubes, cotton, 
vases, etc., through a flame. '*In order to get rid of the micro- 
scopic germs which the dusts of air and of the water used for 
the washing of vessels deposit on every object, the best means 
is to place the vessels (their openings closed with pads of cotton 
wool) during half an hour in a gas stove, heating the air in 
which the articles stand to a temperature of about 150° C. to 
200° C. The vessels, tubes, etc., are then ready for use. The 
cotton wool is enclosed in tubes or in blotting-paper." 

What Pasteur had recommended to surgeons, when he ad- 
vised them to pass through a flame all the instruments they 
used, had become a current practice in the laboratory ; the least 


pad of cotton wool used as a stopper was previously sterilized. 
Thus was an entirely new technique rising fully armed and 
ready to repel new attacks and ensure new victories. 

If Pasteur was so anxious to drive Dr. Bastian to the wall, 
it was because he saw behind that so-called experiment on 
spontaneous generation a cause of perpetual conflict with phy- 
sicians and surgeons. Some of them desired to repel purely 
and simply the whole theory of germs. Others, disposed to 
admit the results of Pasteur's researches, as laboratory work, 
did not admit his experimental incursions on clinical ground. 
Pasteur therefore wrote to Dr. Bastian in the early part of 
Julv, 1877— 

*'Do you know why I desire so much to fight and conquer 
you? it is because you are one of the principal adepts of a 
medical doctrine which I believe to be fatal to progress in the 
art of healing — the doctrine of the spontaneity of all diseases, 
. . . That is an error which, I repeat it, is harmful to medical 
progress. From the prophylactic as well as from the thera^ 
peutic point of view, the fate of the physician and surgeon 
depends upon the adoption of the one or the other of these two 

f 1 



The confusion of ideas on the origin of contagious and epidemic 
diseases was about to be suddenly enlightened; Pasteur had 
now taken up the study of the disease known as charbon or 
splenic fever. This disease was ruining agriculture; the 
French provinces of Beauce, Brie, Burgundy, Nivernais, Berry, 
Champagne, Dauphine and Auvergne, paid a formidable yearly 
tribute to this mysterious scourge. In the Beauce, for in- 
stance, twenty sheep out of every hundred died in one flock; 
in some parts of Auvergne the proportion was ten or fifteen per 
cent., sometimes even twenty-five, thirty-five, or fifty per cent. 
At Provins, at Meaux, at Fontainebleau, some farms were 
called charhon farms; elsewhere, certain fields or hills were 
looked upon as accursed and an evil spell seemed to be thrown 
over flocks bold enough to enter those fields or ascend those hills. 
Animals stricken with this disease almost always died in a few 
hours; sheep were seen to lag behind the flock, with drooping 
head, shaking limbs and gasping breath ; after a rigor and some 
eanguinolent evacuations, occurring also through the mouth and 
tiostrils, death supervened, often before the shepherd had had 
time to notice the attack. The carcase rapidly became dis- 
tended, and the least rent in the skin gave issue to a flow of 
black, thick and viscid blood, hence the name of anthrax given 
to the disease. It was also called splenic fever, because 
necropsy showed that the spleen had assumed enormous dimen- 
sions ; if that were opened, it presented a black and liquid pulp. 
In some places the disease assumed a character of extreme viru- 
lence; in the one district of Novgorod, in Russia, 56,000 head 
of cattle died of splenic infection between 1867 and 1870. 
Horses, oxen, cows, sheep, everything succumbed, as did also 

528 persons, attacked by the contagion under divers forms; a 



pin prick or a scratch is sufficient to inoculate shepherds, 
butchers, knackers or farmers with the malignant pustule. 

Though a professor at the Alfort Veterinary School, M. 
Delafond, did point out to his pupils as far back as 1838 that 
charbon blood contained ''little rods,'' as he called them; it 
was only looked upon by himself and them as a curiosity with 
no scientific importance. Davaine, when he — and Rayer as 
well — recognized in 1850 those little filiform bodies in the blood 
of animals dying of splenic fever, he too merely mentioned 
the fact, which seemed to him of so little moment that he did 
not even report it in the first notice of his works edited by 

It was only eleven years later that Davaine — struck, as he 
himself gladly acknowledged, by reading Pasteur's paper on 
the butyric ferment, the little cylindrical rods of which offer all 
the characteristics of vibriones or bacteria — asked himself 
whether the filiform corpuscles seen in the blood of the charbon 
victims might not act after the manner of ferments and be the 
cause of the disease. In 1863, a medical man at Dourdan, 
whose neighbour, a farmer, had lost twelve sheep of charbon in 
a week, sent blood from one of these sheep to Davaine, who 
hastened to inoculate some rabbits with this blood. He recog* 
nized the presence of those little transparent and motionless rods 
«ivhich he called bacteridia (a diminutive of bacterium, or rod- 
shaped vibriones). It might be thought that the cause of the 
evil was found, in other words that the relation between those 
bacteridia and the disease which had caused death could not be 
doubted. But two professors of the Val de Grace, Jaillard and 
Leplat, refuted these experiments. 

They had procured, in the middle of the summer, from a 
knacker's yard near Chartres, a little blood from a cow which 
had died of anthrax, and they inoculated some rabbits with it. 
The rabbits died, but without presenting any bacteridia. Jail- 
lard and Leplat therefore affirmed that splenic fever was not 
an affection caused by parasites, that the bact^ridium was an 
epiphenomenon of the disease and could not be looked upon 
as the cause of it. 

Davaine, on repeating Jaillard and Leplat 's experiments, 
found a new interpretation ; he alleged that the disease they had 
inoculated was not anthrax. Then Jaillard and Leplat ob- 
tained a little diseased sheep's blood from M. Boutet, a 
veterinary surgeon at Chartres, and tried that instead of «ow's 

18T7— 1879 259 

blood. The result was identical: death ensued, but no bac- 
teridia. Were there then two diseases? 

Others made observations in their turn. It occurred to a 
young German physician, Dr. Koch, who in 1876 was begin- 
ning his career in a small village in Germany, to seek a culture 
medium for the bacteridium. A few drops of aqueous humour, 
collected in the eyes of oxen or of rabbits, seemed to him 
favourable. After a few hours of this nutrition the rods seen 
under the microscope were ten or twenty times larger than at 
first; they lengthened immoderately, so as to cover the whole 
slide of the microscope, and might have been compared to a 
ball of tangled thread. Dr. Koch examined those lengths, and 
Piter a certain time noticed little spots here and there looking 
like a punctuation of spores. Tyndall, who knew how to secure 
continuous attention by a variety of comparisons, said at a scien- 
tific conference in Glasgow a few months later that those little 
ovoid bodies were contained within the envelope of the filament 
like peas in their pods. It is interesting to note that Pasteur, 
when he studied, in connection with silkworm diseases, the 
mode of reproduction of the vibriones of flachery, had seen 
them divided into spores similar to shining corpuscles; he had 
demonstrated that those spores, like seeds of plants, could re- 
vive after a lapse of years and continue their disastrous work 
The bacterium of charbon, or 'bacillus antJiracis as it now began 
to be called, reproduced itself in the same way, and, when 
inoculated by Dr. Koch into guinea-pigs, rabbits and mice, pro- 
voked splenic fever as easily and inevitably as blood from the 
veins of an animal that had died of the disease. Bacilli and 
spores therefore yielded the secret of the contagion, and it 
seemed that the fact was established, when Paul Bert, in 
January, 1877, announced to the Societe de Biologie that it was 
*' possible to destroy the bacillus anthracis in a drop of blood by 
compressed oxygen, to inoculate what remained, and to re- 
produce the disease and death without any trace of the bac- 
teridium. . . . Bacteridia," he added, *'are therefore neither 
the cause nor the necessary effect of splenic fever, which must 
be due to a virus." 

Pasteur tackled the subject. A little drop of the blood of an 
animal which had died of anthrax — a microscopic drop — was 
laid, sown, after the usual precautions to ensure purity, in a 
sterilized balloon which contained neutral or slightly alkaline 
vi'me. The culture medium might equally be common house* 


hold broth, or beer-yeast water, either of them neutralized by 
potash. After a few hours, a sort of flake was floating in the 
liquid; the bacteridia could be seen, not under the shape of 
short broken rods, but with the appearance of filaments, 
tangled like a skein; the culture medium being highly favour- 
able, they were rapidly growing longer. A drop of that liquid, 
abstracted from the first vessel, was sown into a second vessel, 
of which one drop was again placed into a third, and so on, 
until the fortieth flask ; the seed of each successive culture came 
from a tiny drop of the preceding one. If a drop from one of 
those flasks was introduced under the skin of a rabbit or 
guinea-pig, splenic fever and death immediately ensued, with 
the same symptoms and characteristics as if the original drop 
of blood had been inoculated. In the presence of the results 
from those successive cultures, what became of the hypothesis 
of an inanimate substance contained in the first drop of blood? 
It was now diluted in a proportion impossible to imagine. It 
would therefore be absurd, thought Pasteur, to imagine that 
the last virulence owed its power to a virulent agent existing 
in the original drop of blood ; it was to the bacteridium, multi- 
plied in each culture^ and to the bacteridium alone, that this 
power was due; the life of the bacteridium had made the 
virulence. ** Anthrax is therefore," Pasteur declared, *'the 
disease of the bacteridium, as trichinosis is the disease of the 
trichina, as itch is the disease of its special acarus, with this 
circumstance, however, that, in anthrax, the parasite can only 
be seen through a microscope, and very much enlarged.'* After 
the bacteridium had presented those long filaments, within a 
few hours, two days at the most, another spectacle followed; 
amidst those filaments, appeared the oval shapes, the germs, 
spores or seeds, pointed out by Dr. Koch. Those spores, sown 
in broth, reproduced in their turn the little packets of tangled 
filaments, the bacteridia. Pasteur reported that *'one single 
germ of bacteridium in the drop which is sown multiplies 
during the following hours and ends by filling the whole liquid 
with such a thickness of bacteridia that, to the naked eye, it 
seems that carded cotton has been mixed with the broth.'' 

M. Chamberland, a pupil who became intimately associated 
with this work on anthrax, has defined as follows what Pasteur 
had now achieved: *'By his admirable process of culture out- 
side organism, Pasteur shows that the rods which exist in the 
blood, and for which he has preserved the name of bacteridiai 

187T— 1879 261 

given them by Davaine, are living beings capable of being in- 
definitely reproduced in appropriate liquids, after the manner 
of a plant multiplied by successive cuttings. The bacterium 
does not reproduce itself only under the filamentous form, but 
also through spores or germs, after the manner of many plants 
which present two modes of reproduction, by cuttings and by 
seeds/* The first point was therefore settled. The ground 
suspected and indicated by Davaine was now part of the domain 
of science, and preserved from any new attacks. 

Yet Jaillard and Leplat's experiments remained to be ex- 
plained: how had they provoked death through the blood of a 
splenic fever victim and found no bacteridia afterwards? It 
was then that Pasteur, guided, as Tyndall expressed it, by 
**his extraordinary faculty of combining facts with the reasons 
of those facts,'* placed himself, to begin with, in the condi- 
tions of Jaillard and Leplat, who had received, during the 
height of the summer, some blood from a cow and a sheep 
which had died ©f anthrax, that blood having evidently been 
abstracted more than twenty-four hours before the experiment. 
Pasteur, who had arranged to go to the very spot, the knacker's 
yard near Chartres, and himself collect diseased blood, wrote 
to ask that the carcases of animals which had died of splenic 
fever should be kept for him for two or three days. 

He arrived on June 13, 1877, accompanied by the veterinary 
surgeon, M. Boutet. Three carcases were awaiting him: that 
of a sheep which had been dead sixteen hours, that of a horse 
whose death dated from the preceding day, and that of a cow 
which must have been dead for two or three days, for it had 
been brought from a distant village. The blood of the recently 
diseased sheep contained bacteridia of anthrax only. In the 
blood of the horse, putrefaction vibriones were to be found, 
besides the bacteridia, and those vibriones existed in a still 
greater proportion in the blood of the cow. The sheep's blood, 
inoculated into guinea-pigs, provoked anthrax with pure bac- 
teridia ; that of the cow and of the horse brought a rapid death 
with no bacteridia. 

Henceforth what had happened in Jaillard and Leplat *s ex- 
periments, and in the incomplete and uncertain experiments 
of Davaine, became simple and perfectly clear to Pasteur, as 
well as the confusion caused by another experimentalist who 
had said his say ten years after the discussions of Jaillard, 
Tje©lat and Davaine 


This was a Paris veterinary surgeon, M. Signol. He had 
written to the Academy of Sciences that it was enough that a 
healthy animal should be felled, or rather asphyxiated, for its 
blood, taken from the deeper veins, to become violently viru- 
lent within sixteen hours. M. Signol thought he had seen 
motionless bacteridia similar to the bacillus anthracis ; but those 
bacteridia, he said, were incapable of multiplying in the inocu- 
lated animals. Yet the blood was so very virulent that animals 
rapidly succumbed in a manner analogous to death by splenic 
fever. A Commission was nominated to ascertain the facts; 
Pasteur was made a member of it, as was also his colleague 
Bouillaud — still so quick and alert, in spite of his eighty years, 
that he looked less like an old man than like a wrinkled young 
man — and another colleague, twenty years younger, Bouley, 
the first veterinar^^ surgeon in France who had a seat at the 
Institute. The latter was a tall, handsome man, with a some- 
what military appearance, and an expression of energetic good 
humour which his disposition fully justified. He was eager to 
help in the propagation of new ideas and discoveries, and soon, 
with eager enthusiasm, placed his marked talents as a writer 
and orator at Pasteur's disposal. 

On the day when the Commission met, M. Signol showed 
the carcase of a horse, which he had sacrificed for this experi- 
ment, having asphyxiated it when in excellent health. Pasteur 
uncovered the deep veins of the horse and showed to Bouley, and 
also to Messrs. Joubert and Chamberland, a long vibrio, so 
translucid as to be almost invisible, creeping, flexible, and 
which, according to Pasteur's comparison, slipped between the 
globules of the blood as a serpent slips between high grasses; 
it was the septic vibrio. From the peritoneum, where it 
swarms, that vibrio passes into the blood a few hours after 
death ; it represents the vanguard of the vibriones of putrefac- 
tion. When Jaillard and Leplat had asked for blood infected 
with anthrax, they had received blood which was at the same 
time septic. It was septicaemia (so prompt in its action that 
inoculated rabbits or sheep perish in twenty-four or thirty-six 
hours) that had killed Jaillard and Leplat 's rabbits. It was 
also septicaemia, provoked by this vibrio (or its germs, for it 
too has germs), that M. Signol had unknowingly inoculated 
into the animals upon which he experimented. Successive 
cultures of that septic vibrio enabled Pasteur to show, as he 
had done for the bac^ll^:is anthracis, that one drop of those cul 

187T— 1879 263 

tures caused septicaemia in an animal. But, while the bacillus 
anthracis is aerobic, the septic vibrio, being anaerobic, must be 
cultivated in a vacuum, or in carbonic acid gas. And, cultivat- 
ing those bacteridia and those vibriones with at least as much 
care as a Dutchman might give to rare tulips, Pasteur succeeded 
in parting the bacillus anthracis and the septic vibrio when 
they were temporarily associated. In a culture in contact with 
air, only bacteridia developed, in a culture preserved from air, 
only the septic vibrio. 

What Pasteur called *'the Paul Bert fact" now alone re- 
mained to be explained; this also was simple. The blood Paul 
Bert had received from Chartres was of the same quality as 
that which Jaillard and Leplat had had; that is to say already 
septic. If filaments of bacillus anthracis and of septic vibriones 
perish under compressed oxygen, such is not the case with 
the germs, which are extremely tenacious; they can be kept for 
several hours at a temperature of 70° C, and even of 95° C. 
Nothing injures them, neither lack of air, carbonic acid gas nor 
compressed oxygen. Paul Bert, therefore, killed filamentous 
bacteridia under the influence of high pressure; but, as the 
germs were none the worse, those germs revived the splenic 
fever. Paul Bert came to Pasteur's laboratory, ascertained 
facts and watched experiments. On June 23, 1877, he hastened 
to the Societe de Biologic and proclaimed his mistake, acting in 
this as a loyal Frenchman, Pasteur said. 

In spite of this testimony, and notwithstanding the admira- 
tion conceived for Pasteur by certain medical men — notably H. 
Gueneau de Mussy, who published in that very year (1877) a 
paper on the theory of the contagium germ and the application 
of that theory to the etiology of typhoid fever — the struggle 
was being continued between Pasteur and the current medical 
doctrines. In the long discussion which began at that time 
in the Academic de Medecine on typhoid fever, some masters 
of medical oratory violently attacked the germ theory, pro- 
claiming the spontaneity of living organism. Typhoid fever, 
they said, is en^aidered by ourselves within ourselves. Whilst 
Pasteur was convinced that the day would come — and that 
was indeed the supreme goal of his life work — when contagious 
and virulent diseases would be effaced from the preoccupations, 
mournings and anxieties of humanity, and when the infinite- 
simally small, known, isolated and studied, would at last be 
*anQuished, his ideas were called Utopian dreams. 


The old professors, whose career had been built on a com- 
bination of theories which they were pleased to call medical 
truth, dazed by such startling novelties, endeavoured, as did 
Piorry, to attract attention to their former writings. ''It is 
not the disease, an abstract being," said Piorry, ''which we 
have to treat, but the patient, whom we must study with the 
greatest care by all the physical, chemical and clinical means 
which Science offers." 

The contagion which Pasteur showed, appearing clearly in 
the disorders visible in the carcases of inoculated guinea-pigs, 
was counted as nothing. As to the assimilation of a laboratory 
experiment on rabbits and guinea-pigs to what occurred in 
human pathology, it may be guessed that it was quite out of 
the question for men who did not even admit the possibility of a 
comparison between veterinary medicine and the other. It 
would be interesting to reconstitute these hostile surroundings 
in order to appreciate the efforts of will required of Pasteur to 
enable him to triumph over all the obstacles raised before him 
in the medical and the veterinary world. 

The Professor of Alfort School, Colin, who had, he said, 
made 500 experiments on anthrax within the last twelve years, 
stated, in a paper of seventeen pages, read at the Academy of 
Medicine on July 31, that the results of Pasteur's experiments 
had not the importance which Pasteur attributed to them. 
Among many other objections, one was considered by Colin aa 
a fatal one — the existence of a virulent agent situated in the 
blood, besides the bacteridia. 

Bouley, who had just communicated to the Academy of 
Sciences some notes by M. Toussaint, professor at the Toulouse 
veterinary school, whose experiments agreed with those of 
Pasteur, was nevertheless a little moved by Colin 's reading. 
He wrote in that sense to Pasteur, who was then spending his 
holidays in the Jura. Pasteur addressed to him an answer as 
vigorous as any of his replies at the Academy. 

"Arbois, August 18, 1877. — My dear colleague ... I 
hasten to answer your letter, I should like to accept literally 
the honour which you confer upon me by calling me 'your 
master,' and to give you a severe reprimand, you faith- 
less man, who would seem to have been shaken by M. 
CJolin's reading at the Academic des Sciences, since you are 
%ti]l holding forth on the possibility of a virulent agent, 
and since your uncertainties seem to De appeased by a new 

1877—1879 265 

notice, read by yourself, last Monday, at the Academie des 

*'Let me tell you frankly that you have not sufficiently 
imbibed the teaching contained in the papers I have read, in 
my own name and in that of M. Joubert, at the Academie des 
Sciences and at the Academy of Medicine. Can you believe 
that I should have read those papers if they had wanted the 
confirmation you mention, or if M. Colin 's contradictions could 
have touched them? You know what my situation is, in these 
grave controversies ,• you know that, ignorant as I am of medical 
and veterinary knowledge, I should immediately be taxed with 
presumption if I had the boldness to speak without being 
armed for struggle and for victory ! All of you, physicians and 
veterinary surgeons, /vould quite reasonabl}^ fall upon me if I 
brought into your debates a mere semblance of proof. 

*'How is it that you have not noticed that M. Colin has 
travestied — I should even say suppressed — because it hindered 
his theory, the important experiment of the successive cul 
tures of the bacteridium in urine? 

''If a drop of blood, infected with anthrax, is mixed witL 
water, with pure blood or with humour from the eye, as was 
done by Davaine, Koch and M. Colin himself, and some of 
that mixture is inoculated and death ensues, doubt may remain 
in the mind as to the cause of virulence, especially since 
Pavaine's well-known experiments on septicaemia. Our ex- 
periment is very different . . /* 

And Pasteur showed how, from one artificial culture to 
another, he reached the fiftieth, the hundredth, and how a 
drop of this hundredth culture, identical with the first, could 
bring about death as certainly as a drop of infected blood. 

Months passed, and — as Pasteur used to wish in his youth 
that it might be — few passed without showing one step for- 
ward. In a private letter to his old Arbois school-fellow, Jules 
Vercel, he wrote (February 11, 1878) : "I am extremely busy; 
at no epoch of my scientific life have I worked so hard or been 
so much interested in the results of my researches, which will, 
I hope, throw a new and a great light on certain very important 
branches of medicine and of surgery. 


In the face of those successive discoveries, every one had a 
word to say. This accumulation of facts was looked down upon 
bj that category of people who borrow assurance from g mix- 


ture of ignorance and prejudice. Others, on the other hand, 
amongst whom the greatest were to be found, proclaimed that 
Pasteur's work was immortal and that the word "theory" 
used by him should be changed into that of "doctrine." One 
of those who thus spoke, with the right given by full knowledge, 
was Dr. Sedillot, whose open and critical mind had kept him 
from becoming like the old men described by Sainte Beuve as 
stopping their watch at a given time and refusing to recognize 
further progress. He was formerly Director of the Army 
Medical School at Strasburg, and had already retired in 1870, 
but had joined the army again as volunteer surgeon. It will 
be remembered that he had written from the Hagueneau 
ambulance to the Academic des Sciences — of which he was a 
corresponding member — to call the attention of his colleagues 
to the horrors of purulent infection, which defied his zeal and 

No one followed Pasteur's work with greater attention than 
this tall, sad-looking old man of seventy-four; he was one of 
those who had been torn away from his native Alsace, and .he 
could not get over it. In March, 1878, he read a paper to the 
Academ3% entitled "On the Influence of M. Pasteur's Work 
on Medicine and Surgery." 

Those discoveries, he said, which had deeply modified the 
state of surgery, and particularly the treatment of wounds, 
could be traced back to one principle. This principle was 
applicable to various facts, and explained Lister's success, and 
the fact that certain operations had become possible, and that 
certain cases, formerly considered hopeless, were now being 
recorded on all sides. Real progress lay there. Sedillot 's 
concluding paragraph deserves to be handed down as a com- 
ment precious from a contemporary: "We shall have seen the 
conception and birth of a new surgery, a daughter of Science 
and of Art, which will be one of the greatest wonders of our 
century, and with which the names of Pasteur and Lister will 
remain gloriously connected." 

In that treatise, Sedillot invented a new word to charac- 
terize all that body of organisms and infinitely small vibriones, 
bacteria, bac- eridia, etc. ; he proposed to designate them all 
under the generic term of microbe. This word had, in 
Sedillot 's eyes, the advantage of being short and of having a 
general signification. He however felt some scruple before 
using it, and consulted Littre, who replied on February 26, 

1877—1879 267 

1878: **Dear colleague and friend, micrdhe and micrdhia are 
very good words. To designate the animalcule I should give 
the preference to microbe, because, as you say, it is short, and 
because it leaves microbia, a feminine noun, for the designation 
of the state of a microbe." 

Certain philologists criticized the formation of the word in 
the name of the Greek language. Microbe, they said, means 
an animal with a short life, rather than an infinitesimally 
small animal. Littre gave a second testimonial to the word 
microbe — 

**It is true," he wrote to Sedillot, **that [xiKpofSto^s and 
fiaKpo^Lo^ probably mean in Greek short-lived and long-lived. 
But, as you justly remark, the question is not what is most 
purely Greek, but what is the use made in our language of the 
Greek roots. Now the Greek has /3to9, life, ^low, to live, 
/5iov9, living, the root of which may very well figure under the 
form of hi, hia with the sense living, in aerohia, anaerohia and 
microbe. I should advise you not to trouble to answer 
criticisms, but let the word stand for itself, which it will no 
doubt do." Pasteur, by adopting it, made the whole world 
familiar with it. 

Though during that month of March, 1878, Pasteur had had 
the pleasure of hearing Sedillot 's prophetic words at the 
Academic des Sciences, he had heard very different language 
at the Academic de jMedecine. Colin of Alfort, from the iso- 
lated corner where he indulged in his misanthropy, had 
renewed his criticisms of Pasteur. As he spoke unceasingly 
of a state of virulent anthrax devoid of bacteridia, Pasteur, 
losing patience, begged of the Academic to nominate a Com- 
mission of Arbitration. 

''I desire expressly that M. Colin should be urged to demon- 
strate what he states to be the fact, for his assertion implies 
another, which is that an organic matter, containing neither 
bacteridia nor germs of bacteridia, produces within the body of 
a living animal the bacteridia of anthrax. This would be the 
spontaneous generation of the bacillus anthracis!" 

Colin 's antagonism to Pasteur was such that he contra- 
dicted him in every point and on every subject. Pasteur having 
stated that birds, and notably hens, did not take the charbon 
disease, Colin had hastened to say that nothing was easier than 
to give anthrax to hens ; this was in July, 1877. Pasteur, who 
was at that moment sending Colin some samples of bacteridin 


culture which he had promised him, begged that he would 
kindly bring him in exchange a hen suffering from that disease, 
since it could contract it so easily. 

Pasteur told the story of this episode in March, 1878 ; it was 
an amusing interlude in the midst of those technical discus- 
sions. ''At the end of the week, I saw M. Colin coming into 
my laboratory, and, even before I shook hands with him, I said 
to him: 'Why, you have not brought me that diseased hen?' 
— 'Trust me,' answered M. Colin, 'you shall have it next 
week/ — I left for the vacation; on my return, and at the first 
meeting of the Academy which I attended, I went to M. Colin 
and said, 'Well, where is my dying hen?' 'I have only just 
begun experimenting again,' said M. Colin; 'in a few days I 
will bring you a hen suffering from charbon. ' — Days and weeks 
went by, with fresh insistence on my part and new promises 
from M. Colin. One day, about two months ago, M. Colin 
owned to me that he had been mistaken, and that it was impos- 
sible to give anthrax to a hen. 'Well, my dear colleague,' I 
said to him, *I will show you that it is possible to give anthrax 
to hens; in fact, I will one day myself bring you at Alfort a 
hen which shall die of charbon.' 

"I have told the Academy this story of the hen M. Colin had 
promised in order to show that our colleague's contradiction of 
our observations on charbon had never been very serious." 

Colin, after speaking about several other things, ended by 
saying : " I regret that I have not until now been able to hand 
to M. Pasteur a hen dying or dead of anthrax. The two that 
I had bought for that purpose were inoculated several times 
with very active blood, but neither of them has fallen ill. 
Perhaps the experiment might have succeeded afterwards, but, 
one fine day, a greedy dog prevented that by eating up the two 
ibirds, whose cage had probably been badly closed." On the 
Tuesday which followed this incident, the passers-by were 
somewhat surprised to see Pasteur emerging from the Ecole 
Normale, carrying a cage, within which were three hens, one 
of them dead. Thus laden, he took a fiacre, and drove to the 
Academic de Medecine, where, on arriving, he deposited this 
unexpected object on the desk. He explained that the dead 
hen had been inoculated with charbon two days before, at 
twelve o'clock on the Sunday, with five drops of yeast water 
employed as a nutritive liquid for pure bacteridium germs, and 

1877—1879 269 

that it had died on the Monday at five o'clock, twenty-nine 
hours after the inoculation. He also explained, in his own 
name, and in the names of Messrs. Joubert and Chamberland, 
how in the presence of the curious fact that hens were refrac- 
tory to charbon, it had occurred to them to see whether that 
singular and hitherto mysterious preservation did not have its 
cause in the temperature of a hen's body, ''higher by several 
degrees than the temperature of the body of all the animal 
species which can be decimated by charbon." 

This preconceived idea was followed by an ingenious experi- 
ment. In order to lower the temperature of an inoculated 
hen's body, it was kept for some time in a bath, the water 
covering one-third of its body. When treated in that way, 
said Pasteur, the hen dies the next day. "All its blood, 
spleen, lungs, and liver are filled with bacilli anthracis sus- 
ceptible of ulterior cultures either in inert liquids or in the 
bodies of animals. We have not met with a single exception." 

As a proof of the success of the experiment, the white hen 
lay on the floor of the cage. As people might be forthcoming, 
even at the Academy, who would accuse the prolonged bath 
of having caused death, one of the two living hens, a gray 
one, who was extremely lively, had been placed in the same 
bath, at the same temperature and during the same time. 
The third one, a black one, also in perfect health, had been 
inoculated at the same time as the white hen, with the same 
liquid, but with ten drops instead of five, to make the com- 
parative result more convincing; it had not been subjected to 
the bath treatment. "You can see how healthy it is," said 
Pasteur; "it is therefore impossible to doubt that the white 
hen died of charbon; besides, the fact is proved by the bac- 
teridia which fill its body." 

A fourth experiment remained to be tried on a fourth hen, 
but the Academy of Medicine did not care to hold an all-night 
sitting. Time lacking, it was only done later, in the labora- 
tory. Could a hen, inoculated of charbon and placed in a 
bath, recover and be cured merely by being taken out of its 
bath? A hen was taken, inoculated and held down a prisoner 
in a bath, its feet fastened to the bottom of the tub, until it 
was obvious that the disease was in full progress. The hen 
was then taken out of the water, dried, and wrapped up in 
cotton wool and placed in a temperature of 35° C. The bao- 


teridia were reabsorbed by the blood, and the hen recovered 

This was, indeed, a most suggestive experiment, proving 
that the mere fall of temperature from 42° C. (the tempera- 
ture of hens) to 38° C. was sufficient to cause a receptive con- 
dition; the hen, brought down by immersion to the tempera- 
ture of rabbits or guinea-pigs, became a victim like them. 

Between Sedillot's enthusiasm and Colin 's perpetual contra- 
diction, many attentive surgeons and physicians were taking 
a middle course, watching for Pasteur's results and ultimately 
accepting them with admiration. Such was the state of mind 
of M. Lereboullet, an editor of the Weekly Gazette of Medi- 
cine and Surgery, who wrote in an account of the Academic de 
Medecine meeting that ''those facts throw a new light on the 
theory of the genesis and development of the bacillus anthracis. 
They will be ascertained and verified by other experimentalists, 
and it seems very probable that M. Pasteur, who never brings 
an}^ premature or conjectural assertion to the academic tribune, 
will deduce from them conclusions of the greatest interest con- 
cerning the etiology of virulent diseases.'* 

But even to those who admired Pasteur as much as did M. 
Lereboullet, it did not seem that such an important part should 
immediately be attributed to microbes. Towards the end of 
his report (dated March 22, 1878) he reminded his readers that 
a discussion was open at the Academic de Medecine, and that 
the surgeon, Leon Le Fort, did not admit the germ theory in 
its entirety. M. Le Fort recognized ''all the services rendered 
to surgery by laboratory studies, chiefly by calling attention to 
certain accidents of wounds and sores, and by provoking new 
researches with a view to improving methods of dressing and 
bandaging." "Like all his colleagues at the Academy, and 
like our eminent master, M. Sedillot," added M. Lereboullet, 
"M. Le Fort renders homage to the work of M. Pasteur; but 
he remains within his rights as a practitioner and reserves his 
opinion as to its general application to surgery." 

This was a mild way of putting it; M. Le Fort's words were, 
"That theory, in its applications to clinical surgery, is abso- 
lutely inacceptable." For him, the original purulent infection, 
though coming from the wound, was born under the influence 
of general and local phenomena within the patient, and not 
outside him. He believed that the economy had the power, 
under various influences, to produce purulent infection. A 

1877—1879 271 

septic poison was created, born spontaneously, which was after- 
wards carried to other patients by such medicines as the tools 
and bandages and the hands of the surgeon. But, originally, 
before the propagation of the contagium germ, a purulent in- 
fection was spontaneously produced and developed. And, in 
order to put his teaching into forcible words, M. Le Fort 
declared to the Academic de Medecine: "I believe in the 
interiority of the principle of purulent infection in certain 
patients; that is why I oppose the extension to surgery of the 
germ theory which proclaims the constant exteriority of that 

Pasteur rose, and with his firm, powerful voice, exclaimed: 
*' Before the Academy accepts the conclusion of the paper we 
have just heard, before the application of the germ theory to 
pathology is condemned, I beg that I may be allowed to make 
a statement of the researches I am engaged in with the colla- 
boration of Messrs. Joubert and Chamberland." 

His impatience was so great that he formulated then and 
there some headings for the lecture he was preparing, proposi- 
tions «Dn septicaemia or putrid infection, on the septic vibrio 
itself, on the germs of that vibrio carried by wind in the shape 
of dust, or suspended in water, on the vitality of those germs, 
etc. He called attention to the mistakes which might be made 
if, in that new acquaintance with microbes, their morphologic 
aspect alone was taken account of. ''The septic vibrio, for 
instance, varies so much in its shape, length and thickness, 
according to the media wherein it is cultivated, that one would 
think one was dealing with beings specifically distinct from 
each other." 

It was on April 30, 1878, that Pasteur read that celebrated 
lecture on the germ theory, in his own name and in that of 
Messrs. Joubert and Chamberland. It began by a proud exor- 
dium: "All Sciences gain by mutual support. When, subse- 
quently to my early communications on fermentations, in 1857- 
1858, it was admitted that ferments, properly so called, are liv- 
ing beings; that germs of microscopical organisms abound on 
the surface of all objects in the atmosphere and in water; that 
the hypothesis of spontaneous generation is a chimera; that 
wines, beer, vinegar, blood, urine and all the liquids of the 
economy are preser^^d from their common changes when in 
contact with pure air — Medicine and Surgery cast their eyes 
towards these new lights. A French physician, M. Davaine, 


made a first successful application of those principles to medi« 
cine in 1863.'' 

Pasteur himself, elected to the Academic des Science as a 
mineralogist, proved by the concatenation of his studies within 
the last thirty years that Science was indeed one and all em- 
bracing. Having thus called his audience's attention to the 
bonds which connect one scientific subject with another, 
Pasteur proceeded to show the connection between his yester- 
day's researches on the etiology of Charbon to those he now 
pursued on septicaemia. He hastily glanced back on his suc- 
cessful cultures of the bacillus anthracis, and on the certain, 
indisputable proof that the last culture acted equally with the 
first in producing charbon within the body of animals. He 
then owned to the failure, at first, of a similar method of cul- 
tivating the septic vibrio: *'A11 our first experiments failed in 
spite of the variety of culture media that we used ; beer-yeast 
water, meat broth, etc., etc. . . .'* 

He then expounded, in the most masterly manner: (1) the ' 
idea which had occurred to him that this vibrio might be an 
«xclusively anaerobic organism, and that the sterility of the 
liquids might proceed from the fact that the vibrio was killed by 
the oxygen held in a state of solution by those liquids; (2) the 
similarity offered by analogous facts in connection with the 
vibrio of butyric fermentation, which not only lives without 
mr, but is killed by air; (3) the attempts made to cultivate the 
septic vibrio in a vacuum or in the presence of carbonic acid 
j>as, and the success of both those attempts; and, finally, as 
the result of the foregoing, the proof obtained that the action 
of the air kills the septic vibriones, which are then seen to 
perish, under the shape of moving threads, and ultimately to 
disappear, as if burnt away by oxygen. 

'*If it is terrifying," said Pasteur, "to think that life may 
be at the mercy of the multiplication of those infinitesimally 
small creatures, it is also consoling to hope that Science will 
not always remain powerless before such enemies, since it is 
already now able to inform us that the simple contact of air is 
sometimes sufficient to destroy them. But," he continued, 
meeting his hearers' possible arguments, *'if oxygen destroj'S 
vibriones, how can septicemia exist, as it does, in the constant 
presence of atmospheric air? How can those facts be recon- 
ciled with the germ theory? How can blood exposed to air 
become septic through the dusts contained in air? All is dark, 

1877—1879 273 

obscure and o; en to dispute when the cause of the phenomena 
is not known; all is light when it is grasped." 

In a septic liquid exposed to the contact of air, vibriones die 
and disappear; but, below the surface, in the depths of the 
liquid (one centimetre of septic liquid may in this case be 
called depths), "the vibriones are protected against the action 
of oxygen by their brothers, who are dying above them, and 
they continue for a time to multiply by division; they after- 
wards produce germs or spores, the filiform vibriones themselves 
being gradually reabsorbed. Instead of a quantity of moving 
threads, the length of which often extends beyond the field of 
the microscope, nothing is seen but a dust of isolated, shiny 
specks, sometimes surrounded by a sort of amorphous gangue 
hardly visible. Here then is the septic dust, living the latent 
life of germs, no longer fearing the destructive action of oxygen, 
and we are now prepared to understand what seemed at first 
so obscure: the sowing of septic dust into putrescible liquids 
by the surrounding atmosphere, and the permanence of putrid 
diseases on the surface of the earth/' 

Pasteur continued from this to open a parenthesis on diseases 
** transmissible, contagious, infectious, of which the cause 
resides essentially and solely in the presence of microscopic 
organisms. It is the proof that, for a certain number of 
diseases, we must for ever abandon the ideas of spontaneous 
virulence, of contagious and infectious elements suddenly pro- 
duced within the bodies of men or of animals and originating 
diseases afterwards propagated under identical shapes ; all those 
opinions fatal to medical progress and which are engendered 
by the gratuitous hypotheses of the spontaneous generation 
of albuminoid-ferment materia, of hemiorganism, of arche- 
biosis, and many other conceptions not founded on observa- 

Pasteur recommended the following experiment to surgeons. 
After cutting a fissure into a leg of mutton, by means of a 
bistoury, he introduced a drop of septic vibrio culture; the 
vibrio immediately did its work. ''The meat under those con- 
ditions becomes quite gangrened, green on its surface, swollen 
with gases, and is easily crushed into a disgusting, sanious 
pulp." And addressing the surgeons present at the meeting: 
''The water, the sponge, the charpie with which you wash or 
dress a wound, lay on its surface germs which, as you see, have 
an extreme facility of propagating within the tissues, and which 


would infallibly bring about the death of the patients within 
a very short time if life in their limbs did not oppose the multi- 
plication of germs. But how often, alas, is that vital resistance 
powerless! how often do the patient's constitution, his weak- 
ness, his moral condition, the unhealthy dressings, oppose but 
an insufficient barrier to the invasion of the Infinitesimally 
Small with which you have covered the injured part ! If I had 
the honour of being a surgeon, convinced as I am of the 
dangers caused by the germs of microbes scattered on the sur- 
face of every object, particularly in the hospitals, not only 
would I use absolutely clean instruments, but, after cleansing 
my hands with the greatest care and putting them quickly 
through a frame (an easy thing to do with a little practice), 
I would only make use of charpie, bandages, and sponges which 
had previously been raised to a heat of 130° C. to 150° C; I 
would only employ water which had been heated to a tempera- 
ture of 110° C. to 120° C. All that is easy in practice, and, in 
that way, I should still have to fear the germs suspended in the 
atmosphere surrounding the bed of the patient ; but observation 
shows us every day that the number of those germs is almost 
insignificant compared to that of those which lie scattered on 
the surface of objects, or in the clearest ordinary water." 

He came down to the smallest details, seeing in each one 
an application of the rigorous principles which were to tranS' 
form Surgery, IMedicine and Hygiene. How many human 
lives have since then been saved by the dual development of 
that one method! The defence against microbes afforded by 
the substances which kill them or arrest their development, 
»uch as carbolic acid, sublimate, iodoform, salol, etc., etc., con- 
stitutes antisepsis; then the other progress, born of the first, 
the obstacle opposed to the arrival of the microbes and germs 
by complete disinfection, absolute cleanliness of the instru- 
ments and hands, of all which is to come into contact with the 
patient ; in one word, asepsis. 

It might have been prophesied at that date that Pasteur *s 
surprised delight at seeing his name gratefully inscribed on the 
great Italian establishment of sericiculture would one day be 
surpassed by his happiness in living to see realized some of the 
progress and benefits due to him, his name invoked in all 
operating theatres, engraved over the doors of medical and sur- 
gical wards, and a new era inaugurated. 

A presentiment of the future deliverance of Humanity from 

1877—1879 275 

those redoubtable microscopic foes gave Pasteur a fever for 
work, a thirst for new research, and an immense hope. But 
once again he constrained himself, refrained from throwing 
himself into varied studies, and, continuing what he had begun, 
reverted to his studies on splenic fever. 

The neighbourhood of Chartres being most afflicted, the 
IMinister of Agriculture, anticipating the wish of the Conseil 
General of the department of Eure et Loir, had entrusted 
Pasteur with the mission of studying the causes of so-called 
spontaneous charbon, that which bursts out unexpectedly^ in a 
flock, and of seeking for curative and preventive means of 
opposing the evil. Thirty-six years earlier, the learned 
veterinary surgeon, Delafond, had been sent to seek, particu- 
larly in the Beauce country, the causes of the charbon disease. 
Bouley, a great reader, said that there was no contrast more 
instructive than that which could be seen between the reason- 
ing method followed by Delafond and the experimental method 
practised by Pasteur. It was in 1842 that Delafond received 
from M. Cunin Gridaine, then ]\Iinister of Agriculture, the mis- 
sion of "going to study that malady on the spot, to seek for 
its causes, and to examine particularly whether those causes 
did not reside in the mode of culture in use in that part of the 
country." Delafond arrived in the Beauce, and, having seen 
that the disease struck the strongest sheep, it occurred to him 
that it came from "an excess of blood circulating in the 
vessels." He concluded from that that there might be a cor» 
relation between the rich blood of the Beauce sheep and the 
rich nitrogenous pasture of their food. 

lie therefore advised the cultivators to diminish the daily 
ration ; and he was encouraged in his views by noting that 
the frequency of the disease diminished in poor, damp, or 
sandy soils. 

Bouley, in order to show up Delafond 's efforts to make facts 
accord with his reasoning, added that to explain "a disease, 
of which the essence is general plethora, becoming contagious 
and expressing itself by charbon symptoms in man," Delafond 
had imagined that the atmosphere of the pens, into which the 
animals were crowded, was laden with evil gases and putrefying 
emanations which produced an alteration of the blood "due at 
the same time to a slow asphyxia and to the introduction 
through the lungs of septic elements into the blood." 

It would have been but justice to recall other researches coft. 


nected with Delafond's name. In 1863, Delafond had collected 
some blood infected with charbon, and, at a time when such 
experiments had hardly been thought of, he had attempted 
some experiments on the development of the bacteridium, under 
a watch glass, at the normal blood temperature. He had seen 
the little rods grow into filaments, and compared them to a 
*'very remarkable mycelium." ''I have vainly tried to see 
the mechanism of fructification," added Delafond, "but I hope 
I still may." Death struck down Delafond before he could 
continue his work. 

In 1869 a scientific congress was held at Chartres; one of 
the questions examined being this: *'What has been done to 
oppose splenic fever in sheep?" A veterinary surgeon enume- 
rated the causes which contributed, according to him, to pro- 
duce and augment mortality by splenic fever: bad hygienic 
conditions; tainted food, musty or cryptogamized ; heated and 
vitiated air in the crowded pens, full of putrid manure ; paludie 
miasma or effluvia; damp soil flooded by storms, etc., etc. A 
well-known veterinary surgeon, M. Boutet, saw no other means 
to preserve what remained of a stricken flock but to take it to 
another soil, which, in contradiction with his colleague, he 
thought should be chosen cool and damp. No conclusion could 
be drawn. The disastrous loss caused by splenic fever in the 
Beauce alone was terrible; it was said to have reached 
20,000,000 francs in some particularly bad years. The migra- 
tion of the tainted flock seemed the only remedy, but it was 
difficult in practice and offered danger to other flocks, as car- 
cases of dead sheep were wont to mark the road that had been 

Pasteur, starting from the fact that the charbon disease is 
produced by the bacteridium, proposed to prove that, in a 
department like that of Eure et Loir, the disease maintained 
itself by itself. "When an animal dies of splenic fever in a 
field, it is frequently buried in the very spot where it fell; 
thus a focus of contagion is created, due to the anthrax spores 
mixed with the earth where other flocks are brought to graze* 
Those germs, thought Pasteur, are probably like the germs of 
the flachery vibrio, which survive from one year to another 
and transmit the disease. He proposed to study the disease 
on the spot. 

It almost always happened that, when he was most anxious 
to give himself up entirely to the study of a problem, some 

187T- 1879 277 

new discussion was started to hinder him. He had certainly 
thought that the experimental power of giving anthrax to hens 
had been fully demonstrated, and that that question was dead^ 
as dead as the inoculated and immersed hen. 

Colin, however, returned to the subject, and at an Academy 
meeting of July 9 said somewhat insolently, ''I wish we could 
have seen the bacteridia of that dead hen which M. Pasteur 
showed us without taking it out of its cage, and which he 
took away intact instead of making us witness the necropsy 
and microscopical examination." *'I will take no notice," 
said Pasteur at the following meeting, "of the malevolent 
insinuations contained in that sentence, and only consider M. 
Colin 's desire to hold in his hands the body of a hen dead of 
anthrax, full of bacteridia. I will, therefore, ask M. Colin if 
he will accept such a hen under the following condition: the 
necropsy and microscopic examination shall be made by him- 
self, in my presence, and in that of one of our colleagues of this 
Academy, designated by himself or by this Academy, and an 
official report shall be drawn up and signed by the persons 
present. So shall it be well and duly stated that M. Colin 's 
conclusions, in his pap^r of May 14, are null and void. The 
Academy wiU understand my insistence in rejecting M. Colin 'ir* 
«uperficial contradictions. 

''I say it here with no sham modesty: I have always con- 
sidered that my only right to a seat in this place is that given 
me by your great kindness, for I have no medical or veterinary 
knowledge. I therefore consider that I must be more scrupu- 
lously exact than any one else in the presentations which I have 
the honour to make to you ; I should promptly lose all credit if I 
brought you erroneous or merely doubtful facts. If ever I am 
mistaken, a thing which may happen to the most scrupulous, 
it is because my good faith has been greatly surprised. 

*'0n the other hand, I have come amongst you with a pro- 
gramme to follow which demands accuracy at every step. I 
can tell you my programme in two words : I have sought for 
twenty years, and I am still seeking, spontaneous generation 
properly so called. 

''If God permit, I shall seek for twenty years and more the 
spontaneous generation of transmissible diseases. 

''In these difficult researches, whilst sternly deprecating 
frivolous contradiction, I only feel esteem and gratitude 
towards those who may warn me if I should be in error. 

? J 


The Academy decided that the necropsy and microscopic 
examination of the dead hen which Pasteur was to bring to 
Colin should take place in the presence of a Commission com- 
posed of Pasteur, Colin, Davaine, Bouley, and Vulpian. This 
Commission met on the following Saturday, July 20, in the 
Council Chamber of the Academy of Medicine. M. Armand 
Moreau, a member of the Academy, joined the five members 
present, partly out of curiosity, and partly because he had 
special reasons for wishing to speak to Pasteur after the 

Three hens were lying on the table, all of them dead. The 
5rst one had been inoculated under the thorax with five drops 
of yeast water slightly alkalized, which had been given as a 
nutritive medium to some bacteridia anthracis; the hen 
had been placed in a bath at 25° C, and had died within 
twenty-two hours. The second one, inoculated with ten drops 
of a culture liquid, had been placed in a warmer bath, 30° C, 
and had died in thirty-six hours. The third hen, also 
inoculated and immersed, had died in forty-six hours. 

Besides those three dead hens, there was a living one which 
had been inoculated in the same way as the first hen. This 
one had remained for forty-three hours with one-third of its 
body immersed in a barrel of water. When it was seen in the 
laboratory that its temperature had gone down to 36° C, that 
it was incapable of eating and seemed very ill, it was taken out 
of the tub that very Saturday morning, and warmed in a stove 
at 42° C. It was now getting better, though still weak, and 
gave signs of an excellent appetite before leaving the Academy 
council chamber. 

The third hen, which had been inoculated with ten drops, 
was dissected then and there. Bouley, after noting a serous 
infiltration at the inoculation focus, showed to the judges 
sitting in this room, thus suddenly turned into a testing labora- 
tory, numerous bacteridia scattered throughout every part of 
the hen. 

** After those ascertained results," wrote Bouley, who drew 
up the report, "M. Colin declared that it was useless to pro- 
ceed to the necropsy of the two other hens, that which had just 
been made leaving no doubt of the presence of bacilli anthracis 
in the blood of a hen inoculated with charbon and then placed 
under the conditions designated by M. Pasteur as making 
inoculation efficacious. 

1877—1879 279 

"The hen No. 2 has been given up to M. Colin to be used 
for any examination or experiment which he might like to 
try at Alfort. 

"Signed: G. Colin, H. Bouley, C. Davaine, L, Pasteur, 
A. Vulpian." 

"This is a precious autograph, headed as it is by M. Colin 's 
signature!" gaily said Bouley. But Pasteur, pleased as he 
was with this conclusion, which put an end to all discussion 
on that particular point, was already turning his thoughts into 
another channel. The Academician who had joined the 
members of the Commission was showing him a number of 
the Bevue Scientifique which had appeared that morning, and 
which contained an article of much interest to Pasteur. 

In October, 1877, Claude Bernard, staying for the last time 
at St. Julien, near Yillefranche, had begun some experiments 
on fermentations. He had continued them on his return to 
Paris, alone, in the study which was above his laboratory at 
the College de France. 

When Paul Bert, his favourite pupil, M. d'Arsonval, his 
curator, M. Dastre, a former pupil, and M. Armand Moreau, 
his friend, came to see him, he said to them in short, enig- 
matical sentences, with no comment or experimental demon- 
stration, that he had done some good work during the vacation. 
"Pasteur will have to look out . . . Pasteur has only 
seen one side of the question ... J make alcohol without 
cells . . . There is no life without air ..." 

Bernard's and Pasteur's seats at the Academy of Sciences/ 
were next to each other, and they usually enjoyed inter- 
changing ideas. Claude Bernard had come to the November 
and December sittings, but, with a reticence to which he had 
not accustomed Pasteur, he had made no allusion to his 
October experiments. In January, 1878, he became seriously 
ill; in his conversations with M. d'Arsonval, who was affec- 
tionatel}^ nursing him, Claude Bernard talked of his next 
lecture at the Museum, and said that he would discuss his ideas 
with Pasteur before handling the subject of fermentations. At 
the end of January M. d'Arsonval alluded to these incomplete 
revelations. "It is all in my head," said Claude Bernard, 
"but I am too tired to explain it to you." He made the same 
wearv answer two or three davs before his death. When he 
succumbed, on February 10, 1878, Paul Bert, M. d'Arsonval 
and M. Dastre thought it their duty to ascertain whether their 


master had left any notes relative to the work which embodied 
his last thoughts. M. d^Arsonval, after a few days' search, 
discovered some notes, carefully hidden in a cabinet in Claude 
Bernard's bedroom; they were all dated from the 1st to the 
20th of October, 1877; of November and December there was 
no record. Had he then not continued his experiments during 
that period? Paul Bert thought that these notes did not 
represent a work, not even a sketch, but a sort of programme. 
*'It was all condensed into a series of masterly conclusions," 
said Paul Bert, ''which evidenced certitude, but there were no 
means of discussing through which channel that certitude had 
come to his prudent and powerful mind." What should be 
done with those notes? Claude Bernard's three followers 
decided to publish them. ''We must," said Paul Bert, "while 
telling the conditions under which the manuscript was found, 
give it its character of incomplete notes, of confidences made to 
itself by a great mind seeking its way, and marking its road 
indiscriminately with facts and with hypotheses in order to 
arrive at that feeling of certainty which, in the mind of a man 
of genius, often precedes proof." M. Berthelot, to whom the 
manuscript was brought, presented these notes to the readers 
of the Revue ScienUfique, He pointed to their character, too 
abbreviated to conclude with a rigorous demonstration, but he 
explained that several friends and pupils of Claude Bernard 
had "thought that there would be some interest for Science in 
preserving the trace of the last subjects of thought, however 
incomplete, of that great mind." 

Pasteur, after the experiment at the Academic de Medecine, 
hurried back to his laboratory and read with avidity those last 
notes of Claude Bernard. Were they a precious find, explain- 
ing the secrets Claude Bernard had hinted at? "Should I," 
said Pasteur, "have to defend my work, this time against that 
colleague and friend for whom I professed deep admiration, or 
should I come across unexpected revelations, weakening and 
discrediting the results I thought I had definitely established?" 
His reading reassured him on that point, but saddened him 
on the other hand. Since Claude Bernard had neither desired 
nor even authorized the publication of those notes, why, said 
Pasteur, were they not accompanied by an experimental com- 
mentary? Thus Claude Bernard would have been credited 
with what was good in his MSS., and he would not have been 
held responsible for what was incomplete or defective. 

1877—1879 281 

'^As for me, personally," wrote Pasteur in the first pages 
of his Critical Examination of a Posthumous Work of Claude 
Bernard on Fermentation, '^1 found myself cruelly puzzled; 
had I the right to consider Claude Bernard's MS. as the expres- 
sion of his thought, and was I free to criticize it thoroughly?'* 
The table of contents and headings of chapters in Claude 
Bernard's incomplete MS. condemned Pasteur's work on 
alcoholic fermentation. The non-existence of life without air; 
the ferment not originated by exterior germs; alcohol formed 
by a soluble ferment outside life . . . such were Claude 
Bernard's conclusions. **If Claude Bernard was convinced," 
thought Pasteur, "that he held the key to the masterly con- 
clusions with which he ended his manuscript, what could have 
been his motive in withholding it from me? I looked back 
upon the many marks of kindly affection which he had given 
me since I entered on a scientific career, and I came to the 
conclusion that the notes left by Bernard were but a pro- 
gramme of studies, that he had tackled the subject, and that, 
following in this a method habitual to him, he had, the better 
to discover the truth, formed the intention of trying experi- 
ments which might contradict my opinions and results." 

Pasteur, much perplexed, resolved to put the case before his 
colleagues, and did so two days later. He spoke of Bernard's 
silence, his abstention from any allusion at their weekly meet- 
ings. ''It seems to me almost impossible," he said, "and I 
wonder that those who are publishing these notes have not per- 
ceived that it is a very delicate thing to take upon oneself, with 
no authorization from the author, the making public of private 
notebooks! Which of us would care to think it might be done 
to him! . . . Bernard must have put before himself that 
leading idea, that I was in the wrong on every point, and taken 
that method of preparing the subject he intended to study." 
Such was also the opinion of those who remembered that 
Claude Bernard's advice invariably was that every theory 
should be doubted at first and only trusted when found capable 
of resisting objections and attacks. 

"If then, in the intimacy of conversation with his friends 
and the yet more intimate secret of notes put down on paper 
and carefully put away, Claude Bernard develops a plan of 
research with a view to judging of a theory — if he imagines 
experiments — he is resolved not to speak about it until those 
experiments have been clearly checked; we should therefore 


not take from his notes the most expressly formulated pro- 
positions without reminding ourselves that all that was but a 
project, and that he meant to go once again through the experi- 
ments he had already made." 

Pasteur declared himself ready to answer any one who would 
defend those experiments which he looked upon as doubtful, 
erroneous, or wrongly interpreted. ''In the opposite case," 
he said, ''out of respect for Claude Bernard's memory, I will 
repeat his experiments before discussing them." 

Some Academicians discoursed on these notes as on simple 
suggestions and advised Pasteur to continue his studies with- 
out allowing himself to be delayed by mere control experi- 
ments. Others considered these notes as the expression of 
Claude Bernard's thought. "That opinion," said Pasteur — 
man of sentiment as he was — "that opinion, however, does 
not explain the enigma of his silence towards me. But why 
should I look for that explanation elsewhere than in my inti- 
mate knowledge of his fine character? Was not his silence 
a new proof of his kindness, and one of the effects of our 
mutual esteem? Since he thought that he held in his hands 
a proof that the interpretation I had given to my experiments 
was fallacious, did he not simply wish to wait to inform me 
of it until the time when he thought himself ready for a definite 
statement? I prefer to attribute high motives to my friend's 
actions, and, in my opinion, the surprise caused in me by his 
reserve towards the one colleague whom his work most inter' 
ested should give way in my heart to feelings of pious gratitude. 
However, Bernard would have been the first to remind me that 
scientific truth soars above the proprieties of friendship, and 
that my duty lies in discussing views and opinions in my turn 
with full liberty. ' ' 

Pasteur having made this communication to the Academy on 
July 22, hastily ordered three glass houses, which he intended 
to take with him into the Jura, "where I possess/' he told his 
colleagues, "a vineyard occupying some thirty or forty square 

Two observations expounded in a chapter of his Studies on 
Beer tend to establish that yeast can only appear about the 
time when grapes ripen, and that it disappears in the winter 
only to show itself again at the end of the summer." There- 
fore "germs of yeast do not yet exist on green grapes." "We 
are," he added, "at an epoch in tW- year when, by reason of 

18TT— 1879 283 

the lateness of vegetation due to a cold and rainy season, grapes 
are still in the green stage in the Yineyar4s of Arbois. I^ I 
choose this moment to enclose some vines in almost hermeti- 
cally closed glass houses, I shall have in October during the 
vintage some vines bearing ripe grapes without the exterior 
germs of wine yeast. Those grapes, crushed with precautions 
which will not allow of the introduction of yeast germs, will 
neither ferment nor produce wine. I shall give myself the 
pleasure of bringing some back to Paris, to present them to 
the Academy and to offer a few bunches to those of our col- 
leagues who are still able to believe in the spontaneous genera- 
tion of yeast.'* 

In the midst of the agitation caused by that posthumous 
work some said, or only insinuated, that if Pasteur was 
announcing new researches on the subject, it was because he 
felt that his work was threatened. 

''I will not accept such an interpretation of my conduct,'* 
\e wrote to J. B. Dumas on August 4, 1878, at the very tim*^ 
when he was staring for the Jura; *'I have clearly explained 
this in my notice of July 22, when I said I would make new 
experiments solely from respect to Bernard's memory." 

As soon as Pasteur's glass houses arrived, they were put up 
in the little vineyard he possessed, two kilometres from Arbois. 
While chey were being put together, he examined whether the 
yeast germs were really absent from the bunches of green 
grapes; he had the satisfaction of seeing that it was so, and 
that the particular branches which were about to be placed 
under glass did not bear a trace of yeast germs. Still, fearing 
that the closing of the glass might be insufficient and that there 
might thus be a danger of germs, he took the precaution, 
*' while leaving some bunches free, of wrapping a few on each 
plant with cotton wool previously heated to 150° C." 

He then returned to Paris and his studies on anthrax, whilst 
patiently waiting for the ripening of his grapes. 

Besides M. Chamberland, Pasteur had enrolled M. Roux, 
the young man who was so desirous of taking part in the work 
at the laboratory. He and M. Chamberland were to settle down 
at Chartres in the middle of the summer. A recent student of 
the Alfort Veterinary School, M. Vinsot, joined them at his 
own request. M. Roux has told of those days in a paper on 
Pasteur's Medical Work: 

**Our guide was M. Boutet, who had unrivalled knowledge 


of the splenic fever country, and we sometimes met M. Tous- 
saint, who was studying the same subject as we were. We 
have kept a pleasant memory of that campaign against charbon 
in the Chartres neighbourhood. Early in the morning, we 
would visit the sheepfolds scattered on that wide plateau of the 
Beauce, dazzling with the splendour of the August sunshine; 
then necropsies took place in M. Rabourdin's knacker's yard 
or in the farmyards. In the afternoon, we edited our experi- 
ment notebooks, wrote to Pasteur, and arranged for new 
experiments. The day was well filled, and how interesting 
and salutary was that bacteriology practised in the open 

**0n the days when Pasteur came to Chartres, we did not 
linger over our lunch at the Hotel de France; we drove off to 
St. Germain, where M. Maunoury had kindly put his farm 
and flocks at our disposal. During the drive we talked of the 
week's work and of what remained to be done. 

**As soon as Pasteur left the carriage he hurried to the folds. 
Standing motionless by the gate, he would gaze at the lots 
which were being experimented upon, with a careful attention 
which nothing escaped; he would spend hours watching one 
sheep which seemed to him to be sickening. We had to remind 
him of the time and to point out to him that the towers of 
Chartres Cathedral were beginning to disappear in the falling 
darkness before we could prevail upon him to come away. He 
questioned farmers and their servants, giving much credit to 
the opinions of shepherds, who on account of their solitary life, 
give their whole attention to their flocks and often become 
sagacious observers." 

When again at Arbois, on September 17, Pasteur began to 
write to the Minister of Agriculture a note on the practical 
ideas suggested by this first campaign. A few sheep, bought 
near Chartres and gathered in a fold, had received, amongst 
the armfuls of forage offered them, a few anthrax spores. 
Nothing had been easier than to bring these from the labora- 
tory, in a liquid culture of bacteria, and to scatter them on the 
field where the little flock grazed. The first meals did not give 
good scientific results, death was not easily provoked. But 
when the experimental menu was completed by prickly plants, 
likely to wound the sheep on their tongue or in their pharynx, 
such, for instance, as thistles or ears of barley, the mortality 
began. It was perhaps not as considerable as might have 

1877—1879 285 

been wished for demonstration purposes, but nevertheless it 
was sufficient to explain how charbon could declare itself, for 
necropsy showed the characteristic lesions of the so-called spon- 
taneous splenic fever. It was also to be concluded therefrom 
that the evil begins in the mouth, or at the back of the throat, 
supervening on meals of infected food, alone or mixed with, 
prickly plants likely to cause abrasion. 

It was therefore necessary, in a department like that of Eure 
et Loir, which must be full of anthrax germs, — particularly on 
the surface of the graves containing carcases of animals which 
had fallen victims to the disease, — that sheep farmers should 
keep from the food of their animals plants such as thistles, ears 
of barley, and sharp pieces of straw; for the least scratch, 
usually harmless to sheep, became dangerous through the pos- 
sible introduction of the germs of the disease. 

'*It would also be necessary," wrote Pasteur, *'to avoid ail 
probable diffusion of charbon germs through the carcases of 
animals dying of that disease, for it is likely that the depart- 
ment of Eure et Loir contains those germs in greater quantities 
than the other departments; splenic fever having long 
been established there, it always goes on, dead animals not 
being disposed of so as to destroy all germs of ulterior con- 

After finishing this report, Pasteur went to his little vine- 
yard on the Besancon road, where he met with a disappoint- 
ment; his precious grapes had not ripened, all the strength of 
the plant seemed to have gone to the wood and leaves. But 
the grapes had their turn at the end of September and in 
October, those bunches that were swathed in cotton wool as 
well as those which had remained free under the glass; there 
was a great difference of colour between them, the former 
being very pale. Pasteur placed grapes from the two series 
in distinct tubes. On October 10, he compared the grapes 
of the glass houses, free or swathed, with the neighbouring 
open-air grapes. ''The result was beyond my expectations; 
^he tubes of open-air grapes fermented with grape yeast after 
d thirty-six or forty-eight hours' sojourn in a stove from 25° G. 
to 30° C; not one, on the contrary, of the numerous tubes of 
grapes swathed in cotton wool entered into alcoholic fermenta- 
tion, neither did any of the tubes containing grapes ripened 
free under glass. It was the experiment described in my 
Studies on Beer. On the following davs I r^eoeated these 


experiments with the same results.'* He went on to another 
experiment. He cut some of the swathed bunches and hung 
them to the vines grown in the open air, thinking that those 
bunches — exactly similar to those which he had found in- 
capable of fermentation — ^would thus get covered with the 
germs of alcoholic ferments, as did the bunches grown in the 
open air and their wood. After that, the bunches taken from 
under the glass and submitted to the usual regime would fer- 
ment under the influence of the germs which they would receive 
as well as the others; this was exactly what happened. 

The difficulty now was to bring to the Academic des Sciences 
these branches bearing swathed bunches of grapes; in order 
to avoid the least contact to the grapes, these vine plants, as 
precious as the rarest orchids, had to be held upright all the 
way from Arbois to Paris. Pasteur came back to Paris in a 
coupe carriage on the express train, accompanied by his wife 
and daughter, who took it in turns to carry the vines. At 
last, they arrived safely at the Ecole Normale, and from the 
Ecole Normale to the Institute, and Pasteur had the pleasure 
of bringing his grapes to his colleagues as he had brought his 
hens. ''If you crush them while in contact with pure air,*' 
he said, ''I defy you to see them ferment." A long discussion 
then ensued with M. Berthelot, which was prolonged until 
February, 1879. 

*'It is a characteristic of exalted minds," wrote M. Roux, 
"to put passion into ideas. . . . For Pasteur, the alcoholic 
fermentation was correlative with the life of the ferment ; 
for Bernard and M. Berthelot, it was a chemical action like 
any other, and could be accomplished without the participatioE 
of living cells." ''In alcoholic fermentation," said M. 
Berthelot, "a soluble alcoholic ferment may be produced 
which perhaps consumes itself as its production goes on." 

M. Roux had seen Pasteur try to "extract the soluble alcO' 
hclic ferment from yeast cells by crushing them in a mortar. 
by freezing them until they burst, or by putting them into 
concentrated saline solutions, in order to force by osmose the 
succus to leave its envelope." Pasteur confessed that his 
efforts were vain. In a communication to the Academic des 
Sciences on December 30, 1878, he said — 

"It ever is an enigma to me that it should be believed that 
the discovery of soluble ferments in fermentations properly so 
f^sWed. or of the formation of alcohol by means of sugar, inde* 

1877—1879 237 

pendently of cells would hamper me. It is true — I own it 
without hesitation, and I am ready to explain myself more 
lengthily if desired — that at present I neither see the necessity 
for the existence of those ferments, nor the usefulness of their 
action in this order of fermentations. Why should actions of 
diastase, which are but phenomena of hydration, be confused 
with those of organized ferments, or vice versa? But I do not 
see that the presence of those soluble substances, if it were 
ascertained, could change in any way the conclusions drawn 
from my labours, and even less so if alcohol were formed by 

''They agree with me who admit: 

''Firstly. That fermentations, properly so called, offer as 
an essential condition the presence of microscopic organisms. 

*' Secondly. That those organisms have not a spontaneous 

"Thirdly. That the life of every organism which can exist 
away from free oxygen is suddenly concomitant with acts of 
fermentation; and that it is so with every cell which continues 
to produce chemical action without the contact of oxygen." 

When Pasteur related this discussion, and formed of it an 
appendix to his book, Critical Examination of a Posthumous 
Work of Claude Bernard on Fermentations, his painful feelings 
in opposing a friend who was no more were so clearly evidenced 
that Sainte Claire Deville wrote to him (June 9, 1879) : "My 
dear Pasteur, I read a few passages of your new book yester- 
day to a small party of professors and savants. We all were 
much moved by the expressions with which you praise our 
dear Bernard, and by your feelings of friendship and pure 

Sainte Claire Deville often spoke of his admiration for 
Pasteur's precision of thought, his forcible speech, the clearness 
of his writings. As for J. B. Dumas, he called the attention 
of his colleagues at the Academic Francaise to certain pages 
of that Critical Examination. Though unaccustomed to those 
particular subjects, they could not but be struck by the sagacity 
and ingenuity of Pasteur's researches, and by the eloquence 
inspired by his genius. A propos of those ferment germs, which 
turn grape juice into wine, and from which he had preserved 
his swathed bunches, Pasteur wrote — 

*'What meditations are induced by those results! It is 
bnpossible not to observe that, the further we penetrate into the 


cxperimeBtal study of germs, the more we perceive sudden 
lights and clear ideas on the knowledge of the causes of con- 
tagious diseases! Is it not worthy of attention that, in that 
Arbois vineyard (and it would be true of the million Jiedares 
of vineyards of all the countries in the world), there should not 
have been, at the time when I made the aforesaid experiments, 
one single particle of earth which would not have been capable 
of provoking fermentation by a grape yeast, and that, on the 
other hand, the earth of the glass houses I have mentioned 
should have been powerless to fulfil that office? And why? 
Because, at a given moment, I covered that earth with some 
glass. The death, if I may so express it, of a bunch of grapes 
thrown at that time on any vineyard, would infallibly have 
occurred through the saccharomyces parasites of which I speak ; 
that kind of death would have been impossible, on the contrary, 
on the little space enclosed by my glass houses. Those few 
cubic yards of air, those few square yards of soil, were there, 
in the midst of a universal possible contagion, and they were 
safe from it." 

And suddenly looking beyond those questions of yeast and 
vintage, towards the germs of disease and of death: ''Is it 
not permissible to believe, by analogy, that a day will come 
when easily applied preventive measures will arrest those 
scourges which suddenly desolate and terrify populations ; such 
as the fearful disease (yellow fever) which has recently invaded 
Senegal and the valley of the Mississippi, or that other (bubonic 
plague), yet more terrible perhaps, which has ravaged the banka 
of the Volga." 

Pasteur, with his quick answers, his tenacious refutations, 
was looked upon as a great fighter by his colleagues at the 
Academy, but in the laboratory, while seeking Claude Ber- 
nard's soluble ferment, he tackled subjects from which he drew 
conclusions which were amazing to physicians. 

A worker in the laboratory had had a series of furuncles. 
Pasteur, whose proverb was ''Seek the microbe," asked him- 
self whether the pus of furuncles might not have an organism, 
which, carried to and fro, — for it may be said that a furuncle 
never comes alone — would explain the centre of inflammation 
and the recurrence of the furuncles. After abstracting — with 
the usual purity precautions — some pus from three successive 
furuncles, he found in some sterilized broth a microbe, formed 
ef Uttk rounded sDecks which clustered to the sides of the 

1877—1879 289 

culture vessel. The same was observed on a man whom Dr. 
Maurice Eaynaud, interested in those researches on furuncles, 
had sent to the laboratory, and afterwards on a female patient 
of the Lariboisiere Hospital, whose back was covered with 
furuncles. Later on, Pasteur, taken by Dr. Lannelongue to 
the Trousseau Hospital, where a little girl was about to be 
operated on for that disease of the bones and marrow called 
osteomyelitis, gathered a few drops of pus from the inside and 
the outside of the bone, and again found clusters of microbes. 
Sown into a culture liquid, this microbe seemed so identical 
with the furuncle organism that *'it might be affirmed at 
first sight/' said Pasteur, "that osteomyelitis is the furuncle of 

The hospital now took as much place in Pasteur's life as the 
laboratory. ^'Chamberland and I assisted him in those 
studies," writes M. Roux. *'It was to the Hopital Cochin 
or to the Maternite that we went most frequently, taking our 
culture tubes and sterilized pipets into the wards or operating 
theatres. No one knows what feelings of repulsion Pasteur 
had to overcome before visiting patients and witnessing post- 
mortem examinations. His sensibility was extreme, and he 
suffered morally and physically from the pains of others ; the 
cut of the bistoury opening an abscess made him wince as if he 
himself had received it. The sight of corpses, the sad business 
of necropsies, caused him real disgust ; we have often seen him 
go home ill from those operating theatres. But his love of 
science, his desire for truth were the stronger; he returned the 
next day." 

He was highly interested in the studj^ of puerperal fever, 
which was still enveloped in profound darkness. Might not 
the application of his theories to the progress of surgery be 
realized in obstetrics? Could not those epidemics be arrested 
which passed like scourges over lying-in hospitals ? It was still 
remembered with horror how, in the Paris ^Maternity Hos- 
pital, between April 1 and May 10, 1856, 64 fatalities had taken 
place out of 347 confinements. The hospital had to be closed, 
and the survivors took refuge at the Lariboisiere Hospital, 
where they nearly all succumbed, pursued, it was thought, by 
the epidemic. 

Dr. Tarnier, a student residing at the Maternite during that 
disastrous time, related afterwards how the ignorance of the 
causes of puerperal fever was such that he was sometimes called 




away, by one of his chiefs, from some post-mortem business, 
to assist in the maternity wards; nobody being struck by the 
thought of the infection which might thus be carried from the 
theatre to the bed of the patient. 

The discussion which arose in 1858 at the Academic de Mede- 
cine lasted four months^ and hypotheses of all kinds were 
brought forward. Trousseau alone showed some prescience of 
the future by noticing an analogy between infectious surgical 
accidents and infectious puerperal accidents; the idea of a fer- 
ment even occurred to him. Years passed ; women of the lowef 
classes looked upon the Maternite as the vestibule of death. 
In 1864, 310 deaths occurred out of 1,350 confinement cases; 
in 1865, the hospital had to be closed. Works of cleansing and 
improvements gave rise to a hope that the *' epidemic genius 
might be driven away, * But, at the very beginning of 1866, 
wrote Dr. Trelat, then surgeon- in-chief at the Maternite, **the 
sanitary condition seemea perturbed, the mortality rose in 
January, and in February we were overwhelmed. '^ Twenty- 
eight deaths had occurred out of 103 cases. 

Trelat enumerated various causes, bad ventilation, neigh- 
bouring wards, etc., but where was the origin of the 

** Under the influence of causes which escape us,'^ wrote M. 
Leon Le Fort about that time, *' puerperal fever develops in a 
recently delivered woman; she becomes a centre of infection^ 
and, if that infection is freely exercised, the epidemic is con- 

Tarnier, who took Trelat 's place at the Maternite, in 1867, 
had been for eleven years so convinced of the infectious nature 
of puerperal fever that he thought but of arresting the evil by 
every possible means of defence, the first of which seemed to 
him isolation of the patients. 

In 1874, Dr. Budin, then walking the hospitals, had noted in 
Edinburgh the improvement due to antisepsis, thanks to Lister. 
Three or four years later, in 1877 and 1878, after having seen 
that, in the various maternity hospitals in Holland, Germany, 
Austria, Russia and Denmark, antisepsis was practised with 
success, he brought his impressions with him to Paris. Tarnier 
hastened to employ carbolic acid at the Maternite with excel- 
lent results, and his assistant, M. Bar, tried sublimate. "While 
that new period of victory over fatal cases was beginning. 
Pasteur came to the Academic de Medecine, having found, in 

1877—1879 291 

certain puerperal infections, a microbe in the shape of a chain 
or chaplet, Avhich lent itself very well to culture. 

*' Pasteur/' wrote M. Koux, ''does not hesitate to declare 
that that microscopic organism is the most frequent cause of 
infection in recently delivered women. One day, in a discus- 
sion on puerperal fever at the Academy, one of his most weighty 
colleagues was eloquentlj^ enlarging upon the causes of epi- 
demics in lying-in hospitals; Pasteur interrupted him from his 
place. 'None of those things cause the epidemic; it is the 
nursing and medical staff who carry the microbe from an in- 
fected woman to a healthy one.' And as the orator replied that 
he feared that microbe would never be found, Pasteur went to 
the blackboard and drew a diagram of the chain-like organism, 
saying : ' There, that is what it is like ! ' His conviction was 
so deep that he could not help expressing it forcibly. It would 
be impossible now to picture the state of surprise and stupe- 
faction into which he would send the students and doctors in 
hospitals, when, with an assurance and simplicity almost dis- 
concerting in a man who was entering a lying-in ward for the 
first time, he criticized the appliances, and declared that all the 
linen should be put into a sterilizing stove." 

Pasteur was not satisfied with offering advice and criticism, 
making for himself irreconcilable enemies amongst those who 
were more desirous of personal distinction than of the progress 
of Science. In order the better to convince those who still 
doubted, he affirmed that, in a badly infected patient — what he 
usually and sorrowfully called an invaded patient — he could 
bring the microbe into evidence by a simple pin prick on 
the finger tip of the unhappy woman doomed to die the next 

''And he did so," writes M. Roux. "In spite of the tyranny 
of medical education which weighed down the public mind, 
some students were attracted, and came to the laboratory to 
examine more closely those matters, which allowed of such 
precise diagnosis and such confident prognosis." 

"What struggles, what efforts, were necessary before it could 
be instilled into every mind that a constant watch must be 
kept in the presence of those invisible foes, ready to invade 
the human body through the least scratch — that surgeons, 
dressers and nurses may become causes of infection and pro- 
pagators of death through f orgetf ulness ! and before the theory 
of germs and the all powerfulness of microbes could be put 


under a full light a propos of that discussion on puerperal 
fever ! 

But Pasteur was supported and inspired during that period; 
perhaps the most fruitful of his existence, by the prescience 
that those notions meant the salvation of human lives, and that 
mothers need no longer be torn by death from the cradle of 
their new-born infants. 

*'I shall force them to see; they will have to see!" he 
repeated with a holy wrath against doctors who continued to 
talk, from their study or at their clubs, with some scepticism, of 
those newly discovered little creatures, of those ultra-microscopic 
parasites, trying to moderate enthusiasm and even confidence. 

An experimental fact which occurred about that time was 
followed with interest, not only by the Academic des Sciences, 
but by the general public, whose attention was beginning to be 
awakened. A professor at the Nancy Faculty, M. Feltz, had 
announced to the Academic des Sciences in March, 1879, that, 
in the blood abstracted from a woman, who had died at the 
Nancy Hospital of puerperal fever, he had found motionless 
filaments, simple or articulated, transparent, straight or curved, 
which belonged, he said, to the genus leptothrix. Pasteur, 
who in his studies on puerperal fever had seen nothing of the 
kind, wrote to Dr. Feltz, asking him to send him a few drops 
of that infected blood. After receiving and examining the 
sample, Pasteur hastened to inform M. Feltz that that lepto- 
thrix was no other than the bacillus anthracis. M, Feltz, 
much surprised and perplexed, declared himself ready to own 
his error and to proclaim it if he were convinced by examining 
blood infected by charbon, and which, he said, he should collect 
wherever he could find it. Pasteur desired to save him that 
trouble, and offered to send him three little guinea-pigs alive, 
but inoculated, the one with the deceased woman's blood, the 
other with the bacteridia of charbon-infected blood from 
Chartres, the third with some charbon-infected blood from a 
Jura cow. 

The three rodents were inoculated on May 12, at three o 'clock 
in the afternoon, and arrived, living, at Nancy, on the morning 
of the thirteenth. They died on the fourteenth, in the labora- 
tory of M. Feltz, who was thus able to observe them with par- 
ticular attention until their death. 

** After carefully examining the blood of the three animaL* 
after their death, I was unable.'* said M. Feltz, *'to detect the 

1877—1879 293 

least difference; not only the blood, but the internal organs, 
and notably the spleen, were affected in the same manner." 
... "It is a certainty to my mind," he wrote to Pasteur, 
**that the contaminating agent has been the same in the three 
cases, and that it was the bacteridium of what you call 

There was therefore no such thing as a leptothrix puerperalis. 
And it was at a distance, without having seen the patient, that 
Pasteur said: "That woman died of charbon." With an 
honourable straightforwardness, M. Feltz wrote to the 
Academic des Sciences relating the facts. 

"It is doubly regrettable," he concluded, "that I should not 
have known charbon already last year, for, on the one hand, 
I might have diagnosed the redoubtable complication presented 
by the case, and, on the other hand, sought for the mode of 
contamination, which at present escapes me almost com- 
pletely." All he had been able to find was that the woman, a 
charwoman, lived in a little room near a stable belonging to a 
horse dealer. Many animals came there; the stable might 
have contained diseased ones; M. Feltz had been unable to 
ascertain the fact. "I must end," he added, "with thanks 
to M. Pasteur for the great kindness he has shown me during 
my intercourse with him. Thanks to him, I was able to con- 
vince myself of the identity between the bacillus anthracis and 
the bacteridium found in the blood of a woman who presented 
all the symptoms of grave puerperal fever." 

At the time when that convincing episode was taking place, 
other experiments equally precise were being undertaken con- 
cerning splenic fever. The question was to discover whether it 
would be possible to find germs of charbon in the earth of the 
fields which had been contaminated purposelj'', fourteen months 
before, by pouring culture liquids over it. It seemed beyond all 
probability that those germs might be withdrawn and isolated 
from the innumerable other microbes contained in the soil. It 
was done, however; 500 grammes of earth were mixed with 
water, and infinitesimal particles of it isolated. The spore of 
the bacillus anthracis resists a temperature of 80° C. or 90° C, 
which would kill any other microbe; those particles of earth 
were accordingly raised to that degree of heat and then injected 
into some guinea-pigs, several of which died of splenic fever. 
It was therefore evident that docks were exposed to infection 
merely by grazing over certain fields in that land of the Beauce. 


For it was sufficient that some infected blood should have 
remained on the ground, for germs of bacteridia to be found 
there, perhaps years later. How often was such blood spilt 
as a dead animal was being taken to the knacker's yard or 
buried on the spot! Millions of bacteridia, thus scattered on 
and below the surface of the soil, produced their spores, seeds 
of death ready to germinate. 

And yet negative facts were being opposed to these positive 
facts, and the theory of spontaneity invoked! ''It is with 
deep sorrow," said Pasteur at the Academic de Medecine on 
November 11, 1873, ''that I so frequently find myself obliged 
to answer thoughtless contradiction ; it also grieves me much 
to see that the medical Press speaks of these discussions in 
apparent ignorance of the true principles of experimental 
method. . . . 

"That aimlessness of criticism seems explicable to me, how- 
ever, by this circumstance — that Medicina and Surgery are, I 
think, going through a crisis, a transition. There are two oppo- 
site currents, that of the old and that of the new-born doctrine; 
the firstj still followed by innumerable partisans, rests on the 
belief in the spontaneity of transmissible diseases; the second 
is the theory of germs, of the living contagium with all its 
legitimate consequences. ..." 

The better to point out that difference between epochs, 
Pasteur respectfully advised M. Bouillaud, who was taking 
part in the discussion, to read over Littre's Medicine and 
Physicians, and to compare with present ideas the chapter on 
epidemics written in 1836, four years after the cholera which 
had spread terror over Paris and over France. "Poisons and 
venoms die out on the spot after working the evil which is 
special to them," wrote Littre, "and are not reproduced in the 
body of the victim, but virus and miasmata are reproduced and 
propagated. Nothing is more obscure to physiologists than 
those mysterious combinations of organic elements; but there 
lies the dark room of sickness and of death which we must try 
lo open." "Among epidemic diseases," said Littre in another 
passage equally noted by Pasteur, "some occupy the world and 
decimate nearly all parts of it, others are I'nited to more or 
less wide areas. The origin of the latter may be sought either 
in local circumstances of dampness, of marshy ground, of 
decomposing animal or vegetable matter, or in the changes 
^hich take place in men's mode of life." 

18T7— 1879 295 

**If I had to defend the novelty of the ideas introduced into 
medicine by my labours of the last twenty years, ' ' wrote Pasteur 
:rom Arbois in September, 1879, '*I should invoke the sig- 
lificant spirit of Littre's words. Such was then the state of 
Science in 1836, and those ideas on the etiology of great epi- 
demics were those of one of the most advanced and penetrating 
minds of the time. I would observe, contrarily to Littre's 
opinion, that nothing proves the spontaneity of great epi- 
demics ! As we have lately seen the phylloxera, imported from 
America, invade Europe, so it might be that the causes of 
great pests were originated, unknowingly to stricken countries, 
in other countries which had had fortuitous contact with the 
latter. Imagine a microscopic being, inhabiting some part of 
Africa and existing on plants, on animals, or even on men, and 
capable of communicating a disease to the white race; if 
brought to Europe by some fortuitous circumstance, it may 
become the occasion of an epidemic. . . .'^ 

And, writing later, about the same passage: ''Nowadays, 
if an article had to be written on the same subject, it would 
certainly be the idea of living ferments and microscopic beings 
and germs which would be mentioned and discussed as a cause. 
That is the great progress," added Pasteur with legitimate 
pride, ''in which my labours have had so large a share. But 
it is characteristic of Science and Progress that they go on 
opening new fields to our vision; the scientist, who is exploring 
the unknown, resembles the traveller who perceives further 
and higher summits as he reaches greater altitudes. In these 
days, more infectious diseases, more microscopic beings appear to 
the mind as things to be discovered, the discovery of which will 
render a wonderful account of pathological conditions and of 
their means of action and propagation, of self-multiplication 
within and destruction of the organism. The point of view is 
very different from Littre's!!" 

On his return to Paris, Pasteur, his mind overflowing with 
ideas, had felt himself impelled to speak again, to fight once 
more the fallacious theory of the spontaneity of transmissible 
diseases. He foresaw the triumph of the germ theory arising 
from the ruin of the old doctrines — at the price, it is true, of 
many efforts, many struggles, but those were of little conse- 
quence to him. 

The power of his mind, the radiating gifts that he possessed, 
were such that his own people were more and more interested 


in the laboratory, every one trying day by day to penetrate fur- 
ther into Pasteur's thoughts. His family circle had widened; 
his son and his daughter had married, and the two new-comers 
had soon been initiated into past results and recent experi- 
ments. He had, in his childhood and youth, been passionately 
loved by his parents and sisters, and now, in his middle age, his 
tenderness towards his wife and children was eagerly repaid by 
the love they bore him. He made happiness around him whikt 
he gave glory to France. 



A NEW microbe now became the object of the same st-adies 
of culture and inoculation as the bacillus anthracis. Readers 
of this book may have had occasion to witness the disasters 
caused in a farmyard by a strange and sudden epidemic. 
Hens, believed to be good sitters, are found dead on their nests. 
Others, surrounded by their brood, allow the chicks to leave 
them, giving them no attention; they stand motionless in the 
centre of the yard, staggering under a deadly drowsiness. A 
young and superb cock, whose triumphant voice was yesterdaj^ 
heard by all the neighbours, falls into a sudden agony, his beak 
closed, his eyes dim, his purple comb drooping limply. Other 
chickens, respited till the next day, come near the dying and 
the dead, picking here and there grains soiled with excreta con- 
taining the deadly germs: it is chicken cholera. 

An Alsatian veterinary surgeon of the name of Moritz had 
been the first to notice, in 1869, some *' granulations'* in the 
corpses of animals struck down by this lightning disease, which 
sometimes kills as many as ninety chickens out of a hundred, 
those who survive having probably recovered from a slight 
attack of the cholera. Nine years after Moritz, Perroncito, an 
Italian veterinary surgeon, made a sketch of the microbe, 
which has the appearance of little specks. Toussaint studied 
it, and demonstrated that this microbe was indeed the. cause of 
virulence in the blood. He sent to Pasteur the head of a cock 
that had died of cholera. The first thing to do, after isolating 
the microbe, was to try successive cultures; Toussaint had 
used neutralized urine. This, though perfect for the culture of 
the bacillus anthracis, proved a bad culture medium for the 
microbe of chicken cholera ; its multiplication soon became 
arrested. If sown in a small flask of yeast water, equally fav« 


Durable to bacteridia, the result was worse still: the microbe 
disappeared in fortj^-eiglit hours. 

*'Is not that," said Pasteur — with the gift of comparison 
which made him turn each failure into food for reflection — "an 
image of what we observe when a microscopic organism proves 
to be harmless to a particular animal species? It is harmless 
because it does not develop within the body, or because its 
development does not reach the organs essential to life.'^ 

After trying other culture mediums, Pasteur found that tha 
one which answered best was a broth of chicken gristle, 
neutralized with potash and sterilized by a temperature of 
110° C. to 115° C. 

''The facility of multiplication of the micro-organism in 
that culture medium is really prodigious," wrote Pasteur in a 
duplicate communication to the Academics of Sciences and of 
Medicine (February, 1880), entitled Of Virulent Diseases^ and 
in particular that commonly called Chicken Cholera, "In a 
few hours, the most limpid broth becomes turgid and is found 
to be full of little articles of an extreme tenuity, slightly 
strangled in their middle and looking at first sight like isolated 
specks; they are incapable of locomotion. Within a few days, 
those beings, already so small, change into a multitude of 
specks so much smaller, that tbe culture liquid, which had at 
first become turgid, almost ndlky^ becomes nearly clear again, 
the specks being of such narrow diameter as to be impossible to 
measure, even approximately. 

"This microbe certainly belongs to quite another group than 
that of the vibriones. I imagine that it will one day find a 
place with the still mysterious virus, when the latter are suc- 
cessfully cultivated, which will be soon, I hope." 

Pasteur stated that the virulence of this microbe was such 
that the smallest drop of recent culture, on a few crumbs, was 
sufficient to kill a chicken. Hens fed in this way contracted 
the disease by their intestinal canal, an excellent culture 
medium for the micro-organism, and perished rapidly. Their 
infected excreta became a cause of contagion to the hens which 
shared with them the laboratory cages. Pasteur thus 
described one of these sick hens — 

"The animal suffering from this disease is powerless, stag- 
gering, its wings droop and its bristling feathers give it the 
shape of a ball; an irresistible somnolence overpowers it. If 
its eyes are made to open, it seems to awake from a deep sleeps 

1880—1882 299 

and death frequently supervenes after a dumb a^ony, before 
the animal has stirred from its place; sometimes there is a 
faint fluttering of the wings for a few seconds." 

Pasteur tried the effect of this microbe on guinea-pigs which 
had been brought up in the laboratory, and found it but rarely 
mortal; in general it merely caused a sore, terminating in an 
abscess, at the point of inoculation. If this abscess were 
opened, instead of being allowed to heal of its own accord, the 
little microbe of chicken cholera was to be found in the pus, 
preserved in the abscess as it might be in a phial. 

*^ Chickens or rabbits," remarked Pasteur, ''living in the 
society of guinea-pigs presenting these abscesses, might sud- 
denly become ill and die without any alteration being seen in 
the guinea-pigs' health. It would suffice for this purpose that 
those abscesses should open and drop some of their contents 
on the food of the chickens and rabbits. 

''An observer witnessing those facts, and ignorant of the 
above-mentioned cause, would be astonished to see hens and 
rabbits decimated without apparent cause, and would believe 
in the spontaneity of the evil; for he would be far from sup- 
posing that it had its origin in the guinea-pigs, all of them in 
good health. How many mysteries in the history of con* 
tagions w^ill one day be solved as simply as this ! ! ! " 

A chance, such as happens to those who have the genius of: 
observation, was now about to mark an immense step in 
advance and prepare the way for a great discovery. As long 
as the culture flasks of chicken-cholera microbe had been sown 
without interruption, at twenty-four hours' interval, the 
virulence had remained the same; but when some hens were 
inoculated with an old culture, put away and forgotten a few 
weeks before, they were seen with surprise to become ill and 
then to recover. These unexpectedly refractory hens were 
then inoculated with some new culture, but the phenomenon 
of resistance recurred. What had happened? What could 
have attenuated the activity of the microbe? Researches 
proved that oxygen was the cause; and, by putting between 
the cultures variable intervals of days, of one, two or three 
months, variations of mortality were obtained, eight hens dying 
out of ten, then five, then only one out of ten, and at last, 
when, as in the first case, the culture had had time to get staie, 
no hens died at all, though the microbe could still be cultivated. 

** Finally," said Pa«teur, eagerly explaining this pheno 


menon, ''if you take each, of these attenuated cultures ^s $ 
starting-point for successive and uninterrupted cultures, all 
this series of cultures will reproduce the attenuated virulence 
of that which served as the starting-point; in the same way 
non-virulence will reproduce non-virulence/' 

And, while hens who had never had chicken-cholera perished 
when exposed to the deadly virus, those who had undergone 
attenuated inoculations, and who afterwards received more 
than their share of the deadly virus, were affected with the 
disease in a benign form, a passing indisposition, sometimes 
even they remained perfectly well; they had acquired 
immunity. "Was not this fact worthy of being placed by the 
side of that great fact of vaccine, over which Pastcar had so 
often pondered and meditated? 

He now felt that he might entertain the hope of obtaining, 
through artificial culture, some vaccinating-virus against the 
virulent diseases which cause great losses to agriculture in the 
breeding of domestic animals, and, beyond that, the greater 
hope of preserving humanity from those contagious diseases 
which continually decimate it. This invincible hope led him 
to wish that he might live long enough to accomplish some new 
discoveries and to see his followers step into the road he had 
•narked out. 

Strong in his experimental method which enabled him to 
produce proofs and thus to demonstrate the truth; able to 
establish the connection between a virulent and a microbian 
disease; finally, ready to reproduce by culture, in several 
degrees of attenuation, a veritable vaccine, could he not now 
force those of his opponents who were acting in good faith to 
acknowledge the evidence of facts? Could he not carry all 
attentive minds with him into the great movement which was 
about to replace old ideas by new and precise notions, more 
and more accessible? 

Pasteur enjoyed days of incomparable happiness during that 
period of enthusiasm, joys of the mind in its full power, joys of 
the heart in all its expansion; for good was being done. He 
felt that nothing could arrest the course of his doctrine, of 
which he said — ''The breath of Truth is carrying it towards 
the fruitful fields of the future.'* He had that intuition which 
makes a great poet of a great scientist. The innumerable ideas 
surging through his mind were like so many bees all trying to 
issue from the hive at the same time. So many plans and pre- 
^rT>y>/^*T'o^ icon's o-ni-\T c;fi-nTn1nto''l b^^^ "^0 further rpse?irchps r but 

1880—1882 301 

when he was once started on a road, he distrusted each step 
and only progressed in the train of precise, clear and irrefutable 

A paper of his on the plague, dated April, 1880, illustrates 
his train of thought. The preceding year the Academy of 
Medicine had appointed a commission composed of eight 
members, to draw up a programme of research relative to the 
plague. The scourge had appeared in a village situated on the 
right bank of the Volga, in the district of Astrakhan. There 
had been one isolated case at first, followed ten days later by 
another death ; the dread disease had then invaded and devoured 
the whole village, going from house to house like an inextin- 
guishable fire ; 370 deaths had occurred in a population of 1,372 
inhabitants; thirty or forty people died every day. In one of 
those sinister moments when men forget everything in their 
desire to live, parents and relations had abandoned their sick 
and dying among the unburied dead, with 20° C. of frost ! ! 
The neighbouring villages were contaminated; but, thanks to 
the Russian authorities, who had established a strict sanitary 
cordon, the evil was successfully localized. Some doctors, 
meeting in Vienna, declared that that plague was no other 
than the Black Death of the fourteenth century, which had de- 
populated Europe. The old pictures and sculptures of the 
time, which represent Death pressing into his lugubrious gang 
children and old men, beggars and emperors, bear witness to 
the formidable ravages of such a scourge. In France, since 
the epidemic at ^Marseilles in 1720, it seemed as if the plague 
were but a memory, a distant nightmare, almost a horrible 
fairy tale. Dr. Rochard, in a report to the Academic de 
Medecine, recalled how the contagion had burst out in May, 
1720; a ship, having lost six men from the plague on its 
journey, had entered Marseilles harbour. The plague, after 
an insidious first phase, had raged in all its fury in July. 

*' Since the plague is a disease," wrote Pasteur (whose paper 
was a sort of programme of studies), **the cause of which is 
absolutely unknown, it is not illogical to suppose that it too is 
perhaps produced by a special microbe. All experimental 
research must be guided by some preconceived ideas, and it 
would probably be very useful to tackle the study of that disease 
with the belief that it is due to a parasite. 

'*The most decisive of aU the proofs which can be invoked 
in favour of the possible correlation between a determined 
affection and the presence of a micro-organism, is that afforded 


by the method of cultures of organisms in a state of purity; d 
method by which I have solved, within the last twenty-two 
years, the chief difficulties relative to fermentations properly 
so called; notably the important question, much debated for* 
"iiierly, of the correlation which exists between those fermenta* 
tions and their particular ferments.'* 

He then pointed out that if, after gathering either blood ot 
pus immediately before or immediately after the death of a 
plague patient, one could succeed in discovering the micro* 
organism, and then in finding for that microbe an appropriate 
culture medium, it would be advisable to inoculate with it ani- 
mals of various kinds, perhaps monkeys for preference, and to 
look for the lesions capable of establishing relations from cause 
to effect between that organism and the disease in mankind. 

He did not hide from himself the great difficulties to be met 
with in experimenting; for, after discovering and isolating thd 
organism, there is nothing to indicate a priori to the experi- 
mentalist an appropriate culture medium. Liquids which suit 
some microbes admirably are absolutely unsuitable to others. 
Take, for instance, the microbe of chicken-cholera, which will 
not develop in beer yeast; a hasty experimentalist might con- 
clude that the chicken-cholera is not produced by a micro- 
organism, and that it is a spontaneous disease with unknown 
immediate causes. ''The fallacy would be a fatal one,*' said 
Pasteur, ''for in another medium, say, for instance, in 
chicken-broth, there would be a virulent culture.** 

In these researches on the plague, then, various mediums 
should be tried; also the character, either aerobic or anaerobic, 
of the microbe should be present to the mind. 

"The sterility of a culture liquid may come from the presence 
of air and not from its own constitution; the septic vibrio, for 
instance, is killed by oxygen in air. From this last circum- 
stance it is plain that culture must be made not only in the 
presence of air but also in a vacuum or in the presence 
of pure carbonic acid gas. In the latter case, imme- 
diately after sowing the blood or humour to be tested, a 
vacuum must be made in the tubes, they must be sealed by 
means of a lamp, and left in a suitable temperature, usually 
between 30° C. and 40°€.'* Thus he prepared landmarks for 
the guidance of scientific research on the etiology of the plague. 

Desiring as Pasteur did that the public in general should takas 

i i 

1880—1882 303 

an interest in laboratory research, he sent to his friend Nisard 
the number of the Bulletin of the Academie de Medecine 
which contained a first communication on chicken-cholera, and 
also his paper on the plague. 

Read them if you have time," he wrote (May 3, 1880): 

they may interest you, and there should le no blanks in your 
education. They will be followed by others. 

*' To-day at the Institute, and to-morrow at the Academie de 
Medecine, I shall give a new lecture. 

'*Do repeat to me every criticism you hear; I much prefer 
them to praise, barren unless encouragement is wanted, which 
is certainly not my case ; I have a lasting provision of ?aith and 

Nisard answered on May 7: **My very dear friend, I am 
almost dazed with the effort made by my ignorance to follow 
your ideas, and dazzled with the beauty of your discoveries on 
the principal point, and the number of secondary discoveries 
enumerated in your marvellous paper. You are right not to 
care for barren praise ; but you would wrong those who love 
you if you found no pleasure in being praised by them when 
they have no other means of acknowledging your notes. 

"I am reading the notice on chicken-cholera for the second 
^ime, and I observe that the writer is following the discoverer, 
and that your language becomes elevated, supple and coloured, 
in order to express the various aspects of the subject. 

*'It gives me pleasure to see the daily growth of your fame, 
and I am indeed proud of enjoying your friendship." 

Amidst his researches on a vaccine for chicken-cholera, the 
etiology of splenic fever was unceasingly preoccupying Pasteur. 
Did the splenic germs return to the surface of the soil, and 
how? One day, in one of his habitual excursions with I\Iessrs. 
Roux and Chamberland to the farm of St. Germain, near 
Chartres, he suddenlj^ perceived an answer to that enigma. 
In a field recently harvested, he noticed a place where the 
colour of the soil differed a little from the neighbouring earth. 
He questioned M. Maunoury, the proprietor of the farm, who 
answered that sheep dead of anthrax had been buried there the 
preceding year. Pasteur drew nearer, and was interested by 
the mass of little earth cj^linders, those little twists which earth- 
worms deposit on the ground. Might that be, he wondered, 
the explanation of the origin of the germs which reappear on 
the surface? flight not the worms, returning from their sub- 


terranean journeys in the immediate neighbourhood of graves 
bring back with them splenic spores, and thus scatter the germs 
so exhumed? That would again be a singular revelation, un- 
expected but quite simple, due to the germ theory. He wasted 
no time in dreaming of the possibilities opened by that precon- 
ceived idea, but, with his usual impatience to get at the truth, 
decided to proceed to experiment. 

On his return to Paris Pasteur spoke to Bouley of this pos- 
sible part of germ carriers played by earthworms, and Bouley 
caused some to be gathered which had appeared on the surface 
of pits where animals dead of splenic fever had been buried 
some years before. Villemin and Davaine were invited as well 
as Bouley to come to the laboratory and see the bodies of these 
worms opened ; anthrax spores were found in the earth cylinders 
which filled their intestinal tube. 

At the time when Pasteur revealed this pathogenic action 
of the earthworm, Darwin, in his last book, was expounding 
their share in agriculture. He too, with his deep attention and 
force of method, able to discover the hidden importance of what 
seemed of little account to second-rate minds, had seen how 
earthworms open their tunnels, and how, by turning over the 
soil, and by bringing so many particles up to the surface by 
their *' castings,*' they ventilate and drain the soil, and, by 
their incessant and continuous work, render great services to 
agriculture. These excellent labourers are redoubtable grave- 
diggers; each of those two tasks, the one beneficent and the 
other full of perils, was brought to light by Pasteur and Darwin, 
unknowingly to each other. 

Pasteur had gathered earth from the pits where splenic cows 
had been buried in Julj^, 1878, in the Jura. **At three different 
times within those two years," he said to the Academic des 
Sciences and to the Academic de Medecine in July, 1880, *Hhe 
surface soil of those same pits has presented charbon spores." 
This fact had been confirmed by recent experiments on the 
soil of the Beauce farm; particles of earth from other parts 
of the field had no power of provoking splenic fever. 

Pasteur, going on to practical advice, showed how grazing 
animals might find in certain places the germs of charbon, 
freed by the loosening by rain of the little castings of earth- 
worms. Animals are wont to choose the surface of the pits, 
vrhere the soil, being richer in humus, produces thicker growth, 

1880—1882 305 

and in so doing risk their lives, for they become infected, some- 
what in the same manner as in the experiments when their 
forage was poisoned with a few drops of splenic culture liquid. 
Septic germs are brought to the surface of the soil in the same 

'* Animals," said Pasteur, ''should never be buried in 
fields intended for pasture or the growing of hay. When- 
ever it is possible, burying-grounds should be chosen in sandy 
or chalky soils, poor, dry, and unsuitable to the life of earth- 

Pasteur, like a general with only two aides de camp, was 
obliged to direct the efforts of Messrs. Chamberland and Roux 
simultaneously in different parts of France. Sometimes facts 
had to be checked which had been over-hastily announced by 
rash experimentalists. Thus M. Roux went, towards the ena 
of the month of July, to an isolated property near Nancy, called 
Bois de Due Farm, to ascertain whether the successive deaths 
of nineteen head of cattle were really, as affirmed, due to 
splenic fever. The water of this pasture was alleged to be 
contaminated; the absolute isolation of the herd seemed to 
exclude all idea of contagion. After collecting water and 
earth from various points on the estate M. Roux had returned 
to the laboratory with his tubes and pipets. He was much 
inclined to believe that there had been septicasmia and not 
splenic fever. 

M. Chamberland was at Savagna, near Lons-le-Saulnier, 
where, in order to experiment on the contamination of the sur- 
face of pits, he had had a little enclosure traced out and 
surrounded by an open paling in a meadow where victims of 
splenic fever had been buried two years previously. Four 
sheep were folded in this enclosure. Another similar fold, also 
enclosing four sheep, was placed a few yards above the first 
one. This experiment was intended to occupy the vacation, 
and Pasteur meant to watch it from Arbois. 

A great sorrow awaited him there. "I have just had the 
misfortune of losing my sister,'' he wrote to Nisard at the 
beginning of August, "to see whom (as also my parents' and 
children's graves) I returned yearly to Arbois. Within forty- 
eight hours I witnessed life, sickness, death and burial; such 
rapidity is terrifying. I deeply loved my sister, who, in diffi- 
cult times, when modest ease even did not reign in our home, 
carried the h«avy burden of the day and devoted herself to the 


little ones of whom I was one. I am now the only survivoi' of 
my paternal and maternal families.'' 

In the first days of August, Toussaint, the young professor 
of the Toulouse Veterinary School, declared that he had suc- 
ceeded in vaccinating sheep against splenic fever. One process 
of vaccination (v/hich consisted in collecting the blood of an 
animal affected with charbon just before or immediately after 
death, defibrinating it and then passing it through a piece of 
linen and filtering it through ten or twelve sheets of paper) had 
been unsuccessful; the bacteridia came through it all and 
killed instead of preserving the animal. Toussaint then had 
recourse to heat to kill the bacteridia: ''I raised,'' he said, 
*'the defibrinated blood to a heat of 55° C. for ten minutes; 
the result was complete. Five sheep inoculated with three 
cubic cent, of that blood, and afterwards with very active 
charbon blood, have not felt it in the least." However, several 
successive inoculations had to be made. 

*^A11 ideas of holidays must be postponed; we must set to 
work in Jura as well as in Paris," wrote Pasteur to his assist- 
ants. Bouley, who thought that the goal was reached, did not 
hide from himself the difficulties of interpretation of the alleged 
fact. He obtained from the Minister of Agriculture permission 
to try at Alfort this so-called vaccinal liquid on twenty sheep. 

** Yesterday," wrote Pasteur to his son-in-law on August 
13, "I went to give M. Chamberland instructions so that I 
may verify as soon as possible the Toussaint fact, which I will 
only believe when I have seen it, seen it with my own eyes. 
I am having twenty sheep bought, and I hope to be satisfied as 
to the exactitude of this really extraordinary observation in 
about three weeks' time. Nature may have mystified M. 
Toussaint, though his assertions seem to attest the existence of 
a verv interestinpr fact." 

Toussaint 's assertion had been hasty, and Pasteur was not 
long in clearing up that point. The temperature of 55° C. 
prolonged for ten minutes was not sufficient to kill the bac- 
teridia in the blood; they were but weakened and retarded in 
their development; even after fifteen minutes' exposure to 
the heat, there was but a numbness of the bacteridium. "Whilst 
these experiments were being pursued in the Jura and in the 
laboratory of the Eeole Normale, the Alfort sheep were giving 
Bouley great anxiety. One died of charbon one day after 
inoculation, three two days later. The others were so ill that 

1880—1882 307 

M. Nocard wanted to sacrifice one in order to proceed to 
immediate necropsy; Bouley apprehended a complete disaster. 
But the sixteen remaining sheep recovered gi-adually and 
became ready for the counter test of charbon inoculation. 

Whilst Pasteur was noting the decisive points, he heard 
from Bouley and from Roux at the same time, that Toussaint 
now obtained his vaccinal liquid, no longer by the action of 
heat, but by the measured action of carbolic acid on splenic 
fever blood. The interpretation by weakening remained the 

''What ought we to conclude from that result?'^ wrote 
Bouley to Pasteur. ''It is evident that Toussaint does not 
vaccinate as he thought, with a liquid destitute of bacteridia, 
since he gives charbon with that liquid; but that he uses a 
liquid in which the power of the bacteridium is reduced by 
the diminished number and the attenuated activity. His vac- 
cine must then only be charbon liquid of which the intensity 
of action may be weakened to the point of not being mortal to 
a certain number of susceptible animals receiving it. But it 
may be a most treacherous vaccine, in that it might be capable 
of recuperating its power with time. The Alfort experiment 
makes it probable that the vaccine tested at Toulouse and found 
to be harmless, had acquired in the lapse of twelve days before 
it was tried at Alfort, a greater intensity, because the bac- 
teridium, numbed for a time by carbolic acid, had had time to 
awaken and to swarm, in spite of the acid." 

Whilst Toussaint had gone to Rheims (where sat the French 
Association for the Advancement of Science) to state that it 
was not, as he had announced, the liquid which placed the 
animal into conditions of relative immunity and to epitomize 
Bouley 's interpretation, to wit, that it was a bearable charbon 
which he had inoculated, Pasteur wrote rather a severe note on 
the subject. His insisting on scrupulous accuracy in experi- 
ment sometimes made him a little hard ; though the process was 
unreliable and the explanation inexact, Toussaint at least had 
the merit of having noted a condition of transitory attenuation 
in the bacteridium. Bouley begged Pa-teur to postpone his 
communication out of consideration for Toussaint. 

One of the sheep folded over splenic-fever pits had died on 
August 25, its body, full of bacteridia, proving once more the 
error of those who believed in the spontaneity of transmissible 
diseases- Pasteur informed J. B. Dumas of this, and at the 


same time expressed his opinion on the Toussaint fact. Thi« 
letter was read at the Academie des Sciences. 

** Allow me, before I finish, to tell you another secret. I 
have hastened, again with the assistance of Messrs. ChambeT- 
land and Roux, to verify the extraordinary facts recently 
announced to the Academy by M. Toussaint, professor at the 
Toulouse Veterinary School. 

''After numerous experiments leaving no room for doubt, 
I can assure you that M. Toussaint 's interpretations should 
be gone over again. Neither do I agree with M. Toussaint 
on the identity which he affirms as existing between acute 
septicaemia and chicken-cholera; those two diseases differ 
absolutely. ' ' 

Bouley was touched by this temperate language after all 
the verifying experiments made at the Ecole Normale and 
in the Jura. When relating the Alfort incidents, and while 
expressing a hope that some vaccination against anthrax 
would shortly be discovered, he revealed that Pasteur had 
had ''the delicacy of abstaining from a detailed criticism, 
so as to leave M. Toussaint the care of checking his own 

The struggle against virulent diseases was becoming more 
and more the capital question for Pasteur. He constantly 
recurred to the subject, not only in the laboratory, but in his 
home conversations, for he associated his family with all the 
preoccupations of his scientific life. Now that the oxygen of 
air appeared as a modifying influence on the development of a 
microbe in the body of animals, it seemed possible that there 
might be a general law applicable to every virus ! What a 
benefit it would be if the vaccine of every virulent disease could 
thus be discovered ! And in his thirst for research, considering 
that the scientific history of chicken-cholera was more advanced 
than that of variolic and vaccinal affections — the great fact of 
vaccination remaining isolated and unexplained — he hastened 
on his return to Paris (September, 1880) to press physicians 
on this special point — the relations between small-pox and 
vaccine. ''From the point of view of physiological experi- 
mentation," he said, "the identity of the variola virus with 
the vaccine virus has never been demonstrated." When Jules 
Guerin — a born fighter, still desirous at the age of eighty to 
measure himself successfully with Pasteur — declared that 
** human vaccine is the product of animal variola (cow pox and 

1880—1882 309 

horse pox) inoculated into man and humanised by its successive 
transmissions on man," Pasteur answered ironically that he 
might as well say, ** Vaccine is — vaccine." 

Those who were accustomed to speak to Pasteur with absolute 
sincerity advised him not to let himself be dragged further into 
those discussions when his adversaries, taking words for ideas, 
drowned the debate in a flood of phrases. Of what good 
were such debates to science, since those who took the first 
place among veterinary surgeons, physicians and surgeons, 
loudly acknowledged the debt which science owned to Pasteur? 
Why be surprised that certain minds, deeply disturbed in their 
habits, their principles, their influence, should feel some diffi- 
cult}', some anger even in abandoning their ideas? If it is 
painful to tenants to leave a house in which they have spent 
their youth, what must it be to break with one's whole 

Pasteur, who allowed himself thus to be told that he lacked 
philosophical serenity, acknowledged this good advice with an 
affectionate smile. He promised to be calm; but when once in 
the room, his adversaries' attacks, their prejudices and 
insinuations, enervated and irritated him. All his promises 
were forgotten. 

*'To pretend to express the relation between human variola 
*»,nd vaccine by speaking but of vaccine and its relations with 
cow pox and horse pox, without even pronouncing the word 
small-pox, is mere equivocation, done on purpose to avoid the 
real point of the debate." Becoming excited by Guerin's 
antagonism, Pasteur turned some of Guerin's operating pro- 
cesses into ridicule with such effect that Guerin started from 
his place and rushed at him. The fiery octogenarian was 
stopped by Baron Larrey; the sitting was suspended in con- 
fusion. The following day, Guerin sent two seconds to ask for 
reparation by arms from Pasteur. Pasteur referred them to 
M. Beclard, Permanent Secretary to the Academic de Medicine, 
and M. Bergeron, its Annual Secretary, who were jointly 
responsible for the Official Bulletin of the Academy. *'I am 
••eady," said Pasteur, ''having no right to act otherwise, to 
modify whatever the editors may consider as going beyond the 
jrights of criticism and legitimate defence." 

In deference to the opinion of Messrs. Beclard and Bergeron, 
Pasteur consented to terminate the quarrel by writing to the 
<3hairman of the Academy that he had no intention of offending 


a colleague, and that in all discussions of that kind, he never 
thought of anything but to defend the exactitude of his own 

The Journal de la Medecine et de la Chimie, edited by M. 
Lucas-Championniere, said a propos of this very reasonable 
letter — "We, for our part, admire the meekness of M. Pasteur, 
who is so often described as combative and ever on the war- 
path. Here we have a scientist, who now and then makes 
short, substantial and extremely interesting communications. 
He is not a medical man, and yet, guided by his genius, he 
opens new paths across the most arduous studies of medical 
science. Instead of being offered the tribute of attention and 
admiration which he deserves, he meets with a raging opposi* 
lion from some quarrelsome individuals, ever inclined to con- 
tradict after listening as little as possible. If he makes use of 
a scientific expression not understood by everybody, or if he 
uses a medical expression slightly incorrectly, then rises before 
him the spectre of endless speeches, intended to prove to him 
that all was for the best in medical science before it was assisted 
by the precise studies and resources of chemistry and experi- 
mentation. . . . Indeed, M. Pasteur's expression of equivo- 
cation seemed to us moderate!'* 

How many such futile incidents, such vain quarrels, traverse 
the life of a great man! Later on, we only see glory, 
apotheosis, and the statues in public places; the demi-gods 
seemed to have marched in triumph towards a grateful pos- 
terity. But how many obstacles and oppositions are there to 
retard the progress of a free mind desirous of bringing his 
task to a successful conclusion and incited by the fruitful 
thought of Death, ever present to spirits preoccupied with 
interests of a superior order? Pasteur looked upon himself 
as merely a passing guest of those homes of intellect which 
he wished to enlarge and fortify for those who would come 
after him. 

Confronted with the hostility, indifference and scepticism 
which he found in the members of the Medical Academy, he 
once appealed to the students who sat on the seats open to 
the public. 

''Young men, you who sit on those benches, and who are 
perhaps the hope of the medical future of the country, do not 
come here to seek the excitement of polemics, but come and 
learn Method." 

1880—1882 311 

His metliod, as opposed to vague conceptions and a priori 
speculations, went on fortifying itself day by day. Artificial 
attenuation, that is, virus modified by the oxygen of air, which 
weakens and abates virulence; vaccination by the attenuated 
virus — those two immense steps in advance were announced by 
Pasteur at the end of 1880. But would the same process apply 
to the microbe of charbon? That w^as a great problem. The 
vaccine of chicken-cholera was easy to obtain; by leaving pure 
cultures to themselves for a time in contact with air, they soon 
lost their virulence. But the spores of charbon, very indiffer- 
ent to atmospheric air, preserved an indefinitely prolonged 
virulence. After eight, ten or twelve years, spores found in 
the graves of victims of splenic fever were still in full virulent 
activity. It was therefore necessary to turn the diJBBculty by 
a culture process which would act on the filament-shaped bac- 
teridium before the formation of spores. What may now be 
explained in a few words demanded long weeks of trials, tests 
and counter tests. 

In neutralized chicken broth, the bacteridium can no longer 
be cultivated at a temperature of 45° C; it can still be culti- 
vated easily at a temperature of 42° C. or 43° C, but the spores 
do not develop. 

At that extreme temperature,** explains M. Chamberland, 

the bacteridia yet live and reproduce themselves, but they 
never give any germs. Thenceforth, when trying the viru- 
lence of the phials after six, eight, ten or fifteen days, we have 
found exactly the same phenomena as for chicken-cholera. 
After eight days, for instance, our culture, which originally 
killed ten sheep out of ten, only kills four or five ; after ten or 
twelve days it does not kill any; it merely communicates to 
animals a benignant malady which preserves them from the 
deadly form. 

*'A remarkable thing is that the bacteridia whose virulence 
has been attenuated may afterwards be cultivated in a tempera- 
ture of 30° C. to 35° C, at which temperature they give germs 
presenting the same virulence as the filaments which formed 

Bouley, who was a witness of all these facts, said, in othei? 
words, that ''if that attenuated and degenerated bacteridium 
is translated to a culture medium in a lower temperature, fa- 
vourable to its activity, it becomes once again apt to produce 
spores- But those spores born of weakened bacteridia, will 


only produce bacteridia likewise weakened in their swarming 
faculties. ' ' 

Thus is obtained and enclosed in inalterable spores a vaccine 
ready to be sent to every part of the world to preserve animals 
by vaccination against splenic fever. 

On the day when he became sure of this discovery, Pasteur, 
returning to his rooms from his laboratory, said to his family, 
with a deep emotion — ''Nothing would have consoled me if this 
discovery, which my collaborators and I have made, had not 
been a French discovery. ' ' 

He desired to wait a little longer before proclaiming it. Yet 
the cause of the evil was revealed, the mode of propagation 
indicated, prophylaxis made easy; surely, enough had been 
achieved to move attentive minds to enthusiasm and to deserve 
the gratitude of sheep owners! 

So thought the Society of French Agricultors, when it 
decided, on February 21, 1881, to offer to Pasteur a medal of 
honour. J. B. Dumas, detained at the Academic des Sciences, 
was unable to attend the meeting. He wrote to Bouley, who 
had been requested to enumerate Pasteur's principal discoveries 
at that large meeting — ''I had desired to make public by my 
presence my heartfelt concurrence in your admiration for him 
who will never be honoured to the full measure of his merits, of 
his services and of his passionate devotion to truth and to our 
country. ' * 

On the following Monday, Bouley said to Dumas, as they 
were walking to the Academic des Sciences, ''Your letter 
assures me of a small share of immortality." 

"See," answered Dumas, pointing to Pasteur, who was pre- 
ceding them, "there is he who will lead us both to 

On that Monday, February 28, Pasteur made his celebrated 
communication on the vaccine of splenic fever and the whole 
graduated scale of virulence. The secret of those returns to 
virulence lay entirely in some successive cultures through the 
body of certain animals. If a weakened bacteridium was 
inoculated into a guinea-pig a few days old it was harmless; 
but it killed a new-born guinea-pig. 

"If we then go from one new-born guinea-pig to another," 
said Pasteur, "by inoculation of the blood of the first to the 
second, from the second to a third, and so on, the virulence of 
the bacteridium — that is: its adaptability to development 

1880—1882 313 

witliin the economy — becomes gradually strengthened. It 
becomes by degrees able to kill guinea-pigs three or four days 
old, then a week, a month, some years old, then sheep them- 
selves; the bacteridium has returned to its original virulence. 
We may affirm, without hesitation, though we have not had the 
opportunity of testing the fact, that it would be capable of 
killing cows and horses; and it preserves that virulence inde- 
finitely if nothing is done to attenuate it again. 

''As to the microbe of chicken-cholera, when it has lost its 
power of action on hens, its virulence may be restored to it by 
applying it to small birds such as sparrows or canaries, which 
it kills immediately. Then by successive passages through the 
bodies of those animals, it gradually assumes again a virulence 
capable of manifesting itself anew on adult hens. 

*'Need I add, that, during that return to virulence, by the 
way, virus-vaccines can be prepared at every degree of virulence 
for the bacillus anthracis and for the chicken-cholera microbe. 

''This question of the return to virulence is of the greatest 
interest for the etiology of contagious diseases.'* 

Since charbon does not recur, said Pasteur in the course of 
that communication, each of the charbon microbes attenuated 
in the laboratory constitutes a vaccine for the superior microbe. 
"What therefore is easier than to find in those successive virus, 
virus capable of giving splenic fever to sheep, cows and horses, 
without making them perish, and assuring them of ulterior 
immunity from the deadly disease? We have practised that 
operation on sheep with the greatest success. When the season 
comes for sheep-folding in the Beauce, we will try to apply it 
on a large scale.'* 

The means of doing this were given to Pasteur before long; 
assistance was offered to him by various people for various 
reasons ; some desired to see a brilliant demonstration of the 
truth; others whispered their hopes of a signal failure. The 
promoter of one very large experiment was a Melun veterinary 
surgeon, M. Rossignol. 

In the Veterinary Press, of which M. Rossignol was one 
of the editors, an article by him might have been read on the 
31st January, 1881, less than a month before that great dis- 
covery on charbon vaccine, wherein he expressed himself as 
follows: "Will you have some microbe? There is some 
everj^^here. Microbiolatry is the fashion, it reigns undis- 
puted; it is a doctrine ^^hich must not even be discussed. 


especially when its Pontiff, the learned M. Pasteur, has 
pronounced the sacramental words, I have spoken. The 
microbe alone is and shall be the characteristic of a disease; 
that is understood and settled; henceforth the germ theory 
must have precedence of pure clinics ; the Microbe alone is true, 
and Pasteur is its prophet/^ 

At the end of March, M. Rossignol began a campaign, 
begging for subscriptions, pointing out how much the cultiva- 
tors of the Brie — whose cattle suffered almost as much as that 
of the Beauce — ^were interested in the question. The dis- 
covery, if it were genuine, should not remain confined to the 
Ecole Normale laboratory, or monopolized by the privileged 
public of the Academic des Sciences, who had no use for it. 
M. Rossignol soon collected about 100 subscribers. Did he 
believe that Pasteur and his little phials would come to a 
hopeless fiasco in a farmyard before a public of old prac- 
titioners who had always been powerless in the presence of 
splenic fever? Microbes were a subject for ceaseless joking; 
people had hilarious visions of the veterinary profession con- 
fined some twenty years hence in a model laboratory assiduously 
cultivating numberless races, sub-races, varieties and sub- 
varieties of microbes. 

It is probable that, if light comes from above, a good many 
practitioners would not have been sorry to see a strong wind 
from below putting out Pasteur *s light. 

M. Rossignol succeeded in interesting every one in this 
undertaking. When the project was placed before the Melun 
Agricultural Society on the 2nd April, they hastened to approve 
of it and to accord their patronage. 

The chairman. Baron de la Rochette, was requested to 
approach Pasteur and to invite him to organize public experi- 
ments on the preventive vaccination of charbon in the districts 
0." Melun, Fontainebleau and Proving. 

**The noise which those experiments will necessarily cause,*' 
wrote M. Rossignol, ''will strike every mind and convince 
those who may still be doubting ; the evidence of facts will have 
the result of ending all uncertainty.^' 

Baron de la Rochette was a typical old French gentleman; 
his whole person was an ideal of old-time distinction and 
courtesy. "Well up to date in all agricultural progress, and 
justly priding himself, with the ease of a great landowner, that 
he made of agriculture an art and a science, he could speak in 

1880—1882 315 

any surroundings with knowledge of his subject and a mnning 
grace of manner. When he entered the laboratory, he was at 
once charmed by the simplicity of the scientist, who hastened 
to accept the proposal of an extensive experiment. 

At the end of April, Pasteur wrote out the programme which 
was to be followed near Melun at the farm of Pouilly le Fort. 
M. Rossignol had a number of copies of that programme 
printed, and distributed them, not only throughout the Depart- 
ment of Seine et Marne, but in the whole agricultural world. 
This programme was so decidedly affirmative that some one said 
to Pasteur, with a little anxiety: ''You remember what 
Marshal Gouyion St. Cyr said of Napoleon, that 'he liked 
hazardous games with a character of grandeur and audacity.' 
It was neck or nothing with him j you are going on in the same 

"Yes," answered Pasteur, who meant to compel a victory. 

And as his collaborators, to whom he had just read the precise 
and strict arrangements he had made, themselves felt a little 
nervous, he said to them, "What has succeeded in the labora- 
tory on fourteen sheep will succeed just as well at Melun on 

This programme left him no retreat. The Melun Agricul- 
tural Society put sixty sheep at Pasteur's disposal; twenty-five 
were to be vaccinated by two inoculations, at twelve or fifteen 
days' interval, with some attenuated charbon virus. Some 
days later those twenty-five and also twenty-five others would 
be inoculated with some very virulent charbon culture. 

"The twenty-five unvaccinated sheep will all perish," wrote 
Pasteur, "the twenty-five vaccinated ones will survive." 
They would afterwards be compared with the ten sheep which 
had undergone no treatment at all. It would thus be seen that 
vaccination did not prevent sheep from returning to their 
normal state of health after a certain time. 

Then came other prescriptions, for instance, the burying of 
the dead sheep in distinct graves, near each other and enclosed 
within a paling. 

"In May, 1882," added Pasteur, "twenty new sheep, that 
is, sheep never before used for experimentation, will be shut 
within that paling." 

And he predicted that the following year, 1882, out of those 
Iwenty-five sheep fed on the grass of that little enclosure or on 
forage deposited there, several would become infected by tbd 


charbon germs brought to the surface by earthworms, and that 
"ihey would die of splenic fever. Finally, twenty-five other 
sheep might be folded in a neighbouring spot, where no charbon 
victims had ever been buried, and under these conditions none 
would contract the disease. 

M. de la Rochette having expressed a desire that cows should 
be included in the programme, Pasteur answered that he was 
willing to try that new experiment, though his tests on vaccine 
for cows were not as advanced as those on sheep vaccine. 
Perhaps, he said, the results may not be as positive, though he 
thought they probably would be. He was offered ten cows; 
six were to be vaccinated and four not vaccinated. The experi- 
ments were to begin on the Thursday, 5th May, and would in 
all likelihood terminate about the first fortnight in June. 

At the time when M. Eossignol declared that all was ready 
for the fixed time, an editor's notice in the Veterinary Press 
said that the laboratory experiments were about to be repeated 
in campo, and that Pasteur could thus *' demonstrate that he 
had not been mistaken when he affirmed before the astonished 
Academy that he had discovered the vaccine of splenic fever, 
a preventative to one of the most terrible diseases with which 
animals and even men could be attacked." This notice ended 
thus, with an unexpected classical reminiscence: ** These 
experiments are solemn ones, and they will become memorable 
if, as M. Pasteur asserts, with such confidence, they confirm 
all those he has already instituted. We ardently wish that M. 
Pasteur may succeed and remain the victor in a tournament 
which has now lasted long enough. If he succeeds, he will 
have endowed his country with a great benefit, and his adver- 
saries should, as in the days of antiquity, wreathe their brows 
with laurel leaves and prepare to follow, chained and prostrate, 
the chariot of the immortal Victor. But he must succeed: 
such is the price of triumph. Let M. Pasteur not forget that 
the Tarpeian Rock is near the Capitol.'* 

On May 5 a numerous crowd arriving from Melun station or 
from the little station of Cesson, was seen moving towards the 
yard of Pouilly le Fort farm ; it looked like a mobilisation of 
Conseillers Generaiix, agricultors, physicians, apothecaries, and 
especially veterinary surgeons. ]\Iost of these last were full of 
scepticism — as was remarked by M. Thierry, who represented 
the Veterinary Society of the Yonne, and one of his colleagues, 
M. Biot, of Pont-sur-Yonne. They were exchanging jokes and 

1880—1882 31T 

looks to the complete satisfaction of Pasteur's adversaries. 
They were looking forward to the last and most virulent 

Pasteur, assisted not only by Messrs. Chamberland and 
Roux, but also by a third pupil of the name of Thuillier, pro- 
ceeded to the arrangement of the subjects. At the last 
moment, two goats were substituted for two of the sheep. 

Vaccination candidates and unvaccinated test sheep were 
divided under a large shed. For the injection of the vaccinal 
liquid, Pravaz's little syringe was used; those who have 
experienced morphia injections know how easily the needle 
penetrates the subcutaneous tissues. Each of the twenty-five 
sheep received, on the inner surface of the right thigh, five 
drops of the bacteridiam culture which Pasteur called the first 
vaccine. Five cows and one ox substituted for the sixth cow 
were vaccinated in their turn, behind the shoulder. The ox 
and the cows were marked on the right horn, and the sheep on 
the ear. 

Pasteur was, after this, asked to give a lecture on splenic 
fever in the large hall of the Pouilly farm. Then, in clear, 
simple language, meeting every objection half-way, showing no 
astonishment at ignorance or prejudice, knowing perfectly well 
that many were really hoping for a failure, he methodically 
described the road already travelled, and pointed to the goal he 
would reach. For nearly an hour he interested and instructed 
his mixed audience ; he made them feel the genuineness of his 
faith, and, besides his interest in the scientific problem, his 
desire to spare heavy losses to cultivators. After the lecture, 
some, better informed than others, were admiring the logical 
harmony of that career, mingling with pure science results of 
incalculable benefit to the public, an extraordinary alliance 
which gave a special moral physiognomy to this man of pro- 
dig:! ous labours. 

An appointment was made for the second inoculation. In 
the interval — on May 6, 7, 8 and 9 — Messrs. Chamberland and 
Poux came to Pouilly le Fort to take the temperature of the 
vaccinated animals, and found nothing abnormal. On May 17 
a second inoculation was made with a liquid which, though still 
attenuated, was more virulent than the first. If that liquid 
had been inoculated to begin with it would have caused a mor- 
tality of 50 per 100. 

''On Tuesday. May 31," wrote Pasteur to his son-in-law, 



the third and last inoculation will take place — this time with 
fifty sheep and ten cows. I feel great confidence — for the two 
first, on the 5th and the 17th, have been effected under the best 
conditions without any mortality amongst the twenty-five 
vaccinated subjects. On June 5 at latest the final result will 
be known, and should be twenty-five survivors out of twenty- 
five vaccinated, and six cows. If the success is complete, this 
will be one of the finest examples of applied science in this 
century, consecrating one of the greatest and most fruitful 

This great experiment did not hinder other studies being 
pursued in the laboratory. The very day of the second inocula- 
tion at Pouilly le Fort, Mme. Pasteur wrote to her daughter, 
*'One of the laboratory dogs seems to be sickening for hydro- 
phobia; it seems that that would be very lucky, in view of th* 
interesting experiment it would provide." 

On May 25, another letter from Mme. Pasteur shows ho?» 
deeply each member of the family shared Pasteur's preoccupa' 
tions and hopes and was carried away with the stream of hii^ 
ideas: **Your father has just brought great news from the 
laboratory. The new dog which was trephined and inoculated 
with hydrophobia died last night after nineteen days' incuba- 
tion only. The disease manifested itself on the fourteenth day, 
and this morning the same dog was used for the trephining of a 
fresh dag, which was done by Roux with unrivalled skill. All 
this means that we shall have as many mad dogs as will be 
required for experiments, and those experiments will become 
extremely interesting. 

*'Next month one of the master's delegates will go to the 
south of France to study the 'rouget' of swine, which ordina- 
rily rages at this time. 

**It is much hoped that the vaccine of that disease will be 
found. ' ' 

The trephining of that dog had much disturbed Pasteur. 
He, who was described in certain anti-vivisectionist quarters 
as a laboratory executioner, had a great horror of inflicting 
suffering on any animal. 

He could assist without too much effort," writes M. Roux, 

at a single operation such as a subcutaneous inoculation, and 
even then, if the animal screamed at all, Pasteur was imme- 
diately filled with compassion, and tried to comfort and 
encourage the victim, in a way which would have seemed 

< i 

1880—1882 319 

ludicrous if it had not been touching. The thought of having a 
dog's cranium perforated was very disagreeable to him; he very 
much wished that the experiment should take place, and yet he 
feared to see it begun. I performed it one day when he was 
out. The next day, as I was telling him that the intercranial 
inoculation had presented no difficulty, he began pitying the 
dog. 'Poor thing! His brain is no doubt injured, he must 
be paralysed ! ' I did not answer, but went to fetch the dog, 
whom I brought into the laboratory. Pasteur was not fond of 
dogs, but when he saw this one, full of life, curiously investigat- 
ing every part of the laboratory, he showed the keenest 
pleasure, and spoke to the dog in the most affectionate manner. 
Pasteur was infinitely grateful to this dog for having borne 
trephining so well, thus lessening his scruples for future 

As the day was approaching for the last experiments at 
Pouilly le Fort, excitement was increasing in the veterinary 
world. Every chance meeting led to a discussion; some 
prudent men said *'Wait." Those that believed were still few 
in number. 

One or two days before the third and decisive inoculation, the 
veterinary surgeon of Pont-sur-Yonne, M. Biot, who was 
watching with a rare scepticism the Pouilly le Fort experi- 
ments, met Colin on the road to Maisons-Alfort. *'Our con- 
versation" — M. Biot dictated the relation of this episode to 
M. Thierry, his colleague, also very sceptical and expecting the 
Tarpeian Rock — ''our conversation naturally turned on 
Pasteur's experiments. Colon said: 'You must beware, for 
there are two parts in the bacteridia-culture broth: one upper 
part which is inert, and one deep part very active, in which the 
bacteridia become accumulated, having dropped to the bottom 
because of their weight. The vaccinated sheep will be inocu- 
lated with the upper part of the liquid, whilst the others will 
be inoculated with the bottom liquid, which will kill them.' " 
Colin advised M. Biot to seize at the last moment the phial 
containing the virulent liquid and to shake it violently, "so as 
to produce a perfect mixture rendering the whole uniformly 

If. Bouley had heard such a thing, he would have lost his 
temper, or he would have laughed heartily. A year before 
this, in a letter to M. Thierry, who not only defended but 
extolled Colin, Bouley had written: 


'''No doubt Colin is a man of some value, and he has cleverly 
tafeen advantage of his position of Chief of the Anatomy depart- 
ment at Alfort to accomplish some important labours. But it 
is notable that his negative genius has ever led him to try and 
demolish really great work. He denied Davaine, Marey, 
Claude Bernard, Chauveau; now he is going for Pasteur." 
Bouley, to whom Colin was indebted for his situation at 
Alfort, might have added, **And he calls me his persecutor!" 
But Biot refused to believe in Colin 's hostility and only credited 
him wdth scruples on the question of experimental physiology. 
Colin did not doubt M. Pasteur's bona fides, M. Biot said, but 
only his aptitude to conduct experiments in anima vili. 

On May 31, every one was at the farm. M. Biot executed 
Colin 's indications and shook the virulent tube with real 
veterinary energy. He did more: still acting on advice from 
Colin, who had told him that the effective virulence was in 
direct proportion to the quantity injected, he asked that a 
larger quantity of liquid than had been intended should be 
inoculated into the animals. A triple dose was given. Other 
veterinary surgeons desired that the virulent liquid should be 
inoculated alternatively into vaccinated and unvaccinated 
animals. Pasteur lent himself to these divers requests with 
impassive indifference and without seeking for their motives. 

At half-past three everything was done, and a rendezvous 
fixed for June 2 at the same place. The proportion between 
believers and unbelievers was changing. Pasteur seemed so 
sure of his ground that many were saying **He can surely not 
be mistaken." One little group had that very morning drunk 
to a fiasco. But, whether from a sly desire to witness a failure, 
or from a generous wish to be present at the great scientific 
victory, every man impatiently counted the hours of the two 
following days. 

On June 4, Messrs. Chamberland and R.oux went back to 
Pouilly le Fort to judge of the condition of the patients. 
Amongst the lot of unvaccinated sheep, several were standing 
apart with drooping heads, refusing their food. A few of the 
vaccinated subjects showed an increase of temperature; one of 
them even had 40° C. (104° Fahrenheit) ; one sheep presented 
a slight cedema of which the point of inoculation was the 
centre; one lamb was lame, another manifestly feverish, but 
all, save one, had preserved their appetite. All the unvac- 
cinated sheep were getting worse and worse. **In all of 

1880—1882 321 

them, noted M. Rossignol, '^breathlessness is at its maxi- 
mum; the heaving of the sides is now and then inter- 
rupted by groans. If the most sick are forced to get 
up and walk, it is with great difficulty that they advance 
a few steps, their limbs being so weak and vacillating." 
Three had died by the time M. Rossignol left Pouilly le 
Fort. ''Everything leads me to believe," he wrote, 
*'that a great number of sheep will succumb during the 

Pasteur's anxiety was great when Messrs. Chamberland and 
Roux returned, having noticed a rise in the temperature of 
certain vaccinated subjects. It was increased by the arrival of 
a telegram from M. Rossignol announcing that he considered 
one sheep as lost. By a sudden reaction, Pasteur, who had 
drawn up such a bold programme, leaving no margin for the 
unexpected, and who the day before seemed of an imperturbable 
tranciuillity among all those sheep, the life or death of whom 
was about to decide between an immortal discovery and an 
irremediable failure, now felt himself beset with doubts and 

Bouley, who had that evening come to see his master^ as 
he liked to call him, could not understand this reaction — the 
result of too much strain on the mind, said M. Roux, whom 
it did not astonish. Pasteur's emotional nature, strangely 
allied to his fighting temperament, was mastering him. ''His 
faith staggered for a time, ' ' writes M. Roux, "as if the experi- 
mental method could betray him." The night was a sleepless 


This morning, at eight o'clock," wrote Mme. Pasteur to 
her daughter, "we were still very much excited and awaiting 
the telegram which might announce some disaster. Your father 
would not let his mind be distracted from his anxiety. At 
nine o'clock the laboratory was informed, and the telegram 
hauded to me five minutes later. I had a moment's emotion, 
which made me pass through all the colours of the rainbow. 
Yesterday, a considerable rise of temperature had been noticed 
with terror in one of the sheep ; this morning that same sheep 
was well again." 

On the arrival of the telegram Pasteur's face lighted up; his 
joy was deep, and he desired to share it immediately with his 
absent children. Before starting for Melun, he wrote them this 
letter : 


''June 2, 1881. 

''It is only Thursday, and I am already writing to you; it is 
because a great result is now acquired. A wire from Melun 
has just announced it. On Tuesday last, 31st May, we inocu- 
lated all the sheep, vaccinated and non-vaccinated, with very 
virulent splenic fever. It is not forty-eight hours ago. WeU, 
the telegram tells me that, when we arrive at two o'clock this 
afternoon, all the non-vaccinated subjects will be dead ; eighteen 
were already dead this morning, and the others dying. As to 
the vaccinated ones, they are all well; the telegram ends by 
the words 'stunning success*; it is from the veterinary surgeon, 
M. Eossignol. 

**It is too early yet for a final judgment; the vaccinated 
sheep might yet fall ill. But when I write to you on Sunday, 
if all goes well, it may be taken for granted that they will 
henceforth preserve their good health, and that the success will 
indeed have been startling. On Tuesday, we had a foretaste 
of the final results. On Saturday and Sunday, two sheep had 
been abstracted from the lot of twenty-five vaccinated sheep, 
and two from the lot of twenty-five non-vaccinated ones, and 
inoculated with a very virulent virus. Now, when on Tuesday 
aU the visitors arrived, amongst whom were M. Tisserand, M. 
Patinot, the Prefect of Seine et Marne, M. Foucher de Careil, 
Senator, etc., we found the two unvaccinated sheep dead, and 
the two others in good health. I then said to one of the 
veterinary surgeons who were present, 'Did I not read in a 
newspaper, signed by you, a propos of the virulent little 
organism of saliva, "There! one more microbe; when there are 
100 we shall make a cross*'?' 'It is true,' he immediately 
answered, honestly. 'But I am a converted and repentant 
sinner.' 'Well,' I answered, 'allow me to remind you of the 
words of the Gospel: Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner 
that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons 
wliicli need no repentance.' Another veterinary surgeon who 
M-as present said, 'I will bring you another, M. Colin.' 'You 
ure mistaken,' I replied. 'M. Colin contradicts for the sake 
of contradicting, and does not believe because he will not 
believe. You would have to cure a case of neurosis, and you 
cannot do that!' Joy reigns in the laboratory and in the house. 
Hejoice, my dear children." 

When Pasteur arrived, at two o'clock in the afternoon, at 
the farmyard of Pouilly le Fort, accompanied by his young 

188(>— 1882 323 

collaborators, a murmur of applause arose, wliich soon became 
loud acclamation, bursting from all lips. Delegates from the 
Agricultural Society of Melun, from medical societies, 
veterinary societies, from the Central Council of Hygiene of 
Seine et Marne, journalists, small farmers who had been di\dded 
in their minds by laudatory or injurious newspaper articles- 
all were there. The carcases of twenty-two unvaccinated sheep 
were lying side by side ; two o'^hers were breathing their last ; 
the last survivors of the sacrificed lot showed all the 
characteristic symptoms of splenic fever. All the vaccinated 
sheep were in perfect health. 

Bouley's happy face reflected the feelings which were so 
characteristic of his attractive personality: enthusiasm for a 
great cause, devotion to a great man. M. Rossignol, in one of 
those loyal impulses which honour human nature, disowned 
with perfect sincerity his first hasty judgment; Bouley con- 
gratulated him. He himself, many years before, had allowed 
himself to judge too hastily, he said, of certain experiments of 
DavaineX of which the results then appeared impossible. 
After having witnessed these experiments, Bouley had thought 
it a duty to proclaim his error at the Academic de Medecine, 
and to render a public homage to Davaine. **That, I think," 
he said, "is the line of conduct which should always be 
observed; we honour ourselves by acknowledging our mistakes 
and by rendering justice to neglected merit." 

No success had ever been greater than Pasteur's. The 
veterinary surgeons, until then the most incredulous, now 
convinced, desired to become the apostles of his doctrine. 
M. Biot spoke of nothing less than of being himself 
vaccinated and afterwards inoculated with the most active 
virus. Colin 's absence was much regretted. Pasteur was 
not yet satisfied. **We must wait until the 5th of June," 
he said, **for the experiment to be complete, and the proof 
decisive. ' ' 

M. Rossignol and M. Biot proceeded on the spot to the 
necropsy of two of the dead sheep. An abundance of bac- 
teridia was very clearly seen in the blood through the 

Pasteur was accompanied back to the station by an enthu- 
siastic crowd, saluting him — ^with a luxury of epithets con- 
trasting with former ironies — as the immortal author of the 
Naagnificent discovery of splenic fever vaccination, and it was 


decided that tlie farm of Pouilly le Fort would henceforth bear 
the name of Clos Pasteur. 

The one remaining unvaccinated sheep died that same night. 
Amongst the vaccinated lot one ewe alone caused some anxiety. 
She was pregnant, and died on the 4th of June, but from an 
accident due to her condition, and not from the consequences 
of the inoculation, as was proved by a post-mortem examination. 

Amongst the cattle, those which had been vaccinated showed 
no sign whatever of any disturbance; the others presented 
enormous oedemata. 

Pasteur wrote to his daughter: ''Success is definitely con- 
firmed; the vaccinated animals are keeping perfectly well, the 
test is complete. On Wednesday a report of the facts and 
results will be drawn up which I shall communicate to the 
Academic des Sciences on Monday, and on Tuesday to the 
Academic de Medecine.'^ 

And, that same day, he addressed a joyful telegram to Bouley, 
who, in his quality of General Inspector of Veterinary Schools, 
had been obliged to go to Lyons. Bouley answered by the 
following letter: 

"Lyons, June 5, 1881. Dearest Master, your triumph has 
filled me with joy. Though the days are long past now when 
my faith in you was still somewhat hesitating, not having suf- 
ficiently impregnated my mind with your spirit, as long as the 
event — which has just been realized in a manner so rigorously 
in conformity with your predictions — was still in the future, ] 
could not keep mj^self from feeling a certain anxiety, of which 
you were yourself the cause, since I had seen you also a prey 
to it, like all inventors on the eve of the day which reveals 
their glory. At last your telegram, for which I was pining, 
has come to tell me that the world has found you faithful to all 
your promises, and that you have inscribed one more great date 
in the annals of Science, and particularly in those of Medicine, 
for which you have opened a new era. 

*'I feel the greatest joy at j^our triumph; in the first place, 
for you, who are to-day receiving the reward of your noble 
efforts in the pursuit of Truth; and — shall I tell you? — for 
myself too, for I have so intimately associated myself with your 
work that I should have felt your failure absolutely as if it had 
been personal to me. All my teaching at the Museum consists 
in relating your labours and predicting their fruitfulness.*' 

Those experiments at Pouilly le Fort caused a tremendous 

1880—1882 325 

sensation; the whole of France burst out in an explosion of 
enthusiasm. Pasteur now knew fame under its rarest and 
purest form; the loving veneration, the almost worship with 
which he inspired those who lived near him or worked with him, 
had become the feeling of a whole nation. 

On June 13, at the Academic des Sciences, he was able to 
state as follows his results and their practical consequences: 
''We now possess virus vaccines of charbon, capable of pre- 
serving from the deadly disease, without ever being themselves 
deadly — living vaccines, to be cultivated at will, transportable 
anywhere without alteration, and prepared by a method which 
we may believe susceptible of being generalized, since it has 
been the means of discovering the vaccine of chicken-cholera. 
By the character of the conditions I am now enumerating, and 
from a purely scientific point of ^new, the discovery of the 
vaccine of anthrax constitutes a marked step in advance of that 
of Jenner's vaccine, since the latter has never been experi- 
mentally obtained." 

On all sides, it was felt that something very great, very 
unexpected, justifying every sort of hope, had been brought 
forth. Ideas of research were coming up. On tne very morrow 
of the results obtained at Pouilly le Fort, Pasteur was asked to 
go to the Cape to study a contagious disease raging among goats. 

''Your father would like to take that long journey," wrote 
Mme. Pasteur to her daughter, "passing on his way through 
Senegal to gather some good germs of pernicious fever ; but I 
am trying to moderate his ardour. I consider that the study 
of hydrophobia should suffice him for the present." 

He was at that time "at boiling point," as he put it — going 
from his laboratory work to the Academies of Sciences and 
Medicine to read some notes; then to read reports at the Agri- 
cultural Society; to Versailles, to give a lecture to an Agronomic 
Congress, and to Alfort to lecture to the professors and students. 
His clear and well-arranged words, the connection between 
ideas and the facts supporting them, the methodical recital of 
experiments, allied to an enthusiastic view of the future and 
its prospects — especially when addressing a youthful audience — 
deeply impressed his hearers. Those who saw and heard him 
for the first time were the more surprised that, in certain 
circles, a legend had formed round Pasteur's name. He had 
been described as of an irritable, intolerant temper, domineering 
and authoritative, almost despotic; and people now saw a man 


of perfect simplicity, so modest that he did not seem to realize 
his own glory, pleased to answer — even to provoke — every 
objection, only raising his voice to defend Truth, to exalt Work^ 
and to inspire love for France, which he wished to see again in 
the first rank of nations. He did not cease to repeat that the 
country must regain her place through scientific progress. Boys 
and youths — ever quick to penetrate the clever calculations of 
those who seek their own interest instead of accomplishing a 
duty — listened to him eagerly and, very soon conquered, 
enrolled themselves among his followers. In him they recog- 
nized the three rarely united qualities which go to form true 
benefactors of humanity: a mighty genius, great force of 
character, and genuine goodness. 

The Republican Government, desirous of recognizing this 
great discovery of splenic fever vaccination, offered him the 
Grand Cordon of the Legion of Honour. Pasteur put forward 
one condition; he wanted, at the same time, the red ribbon for 
his two collaborators. ^'What I have most set my heart upon is 
to obtain the Cross for Chamberland and Roux,'* he wrote to 
his son-in-law on June 26; ''only at that price will I accept the 
Grand Cross. They are taking such trouble! Yesterday they 
went to a place fifteen kilometres from Senlis, to vaccinate ten 
cows and 250 sheep. On Thursday we vaccinated 300 sheep at 
Vincennes. On Sunday they were near Coulommiers. On 
Friday we are going to Pithiviers. What I chiefly wish is that 
the discovery should be consecrated by an exceptional distinc- 
tion to two devoted young men, full of merit and courage. I 
wrote yesterday to Paul Bert, asking him to intervene most 
warmly in their favour." 

One of Pasteur's earliest friends, who, in 1862, had greeted 
with joy his election to the Academic des Sciences, and who 
had never ceased to show the greatest interest in the progress 
due to the experimental method, entered the Ecole Normale 
laboratoi-y with a beaming face. Happy to bring good tidings, 
he took his share of them like the devoted, hardworking, kindly 
man that he was. ''M. Grandeau," wrote Mme. Pasteur to 
her children, ''has just brought to the laboratory the news that 
Eoux and Chamberland have the Cross and M. Pasteur the 
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. Hearty congratulations 
were exchanged in the midst of the rabbits and guinea-pigs.' 


Those days were darkened by a great sorrow. Henri Saicte 

1880—1882 32T 

Claire Deviile died. Pasteur was then reminded of the words 
of his friend in 1868: ''You will survive me, I am your senior; 
promise that you will pronounce my funeral oration." When 
formulating this desire, Sainte Claire Deviile had no doubt been 
desirous of giving another direction to the presentiments of 
Pasteur, who believed himself death-stricken. But, whether 
it was from a secret desire, or from an affectionate impulse, he 
felt that none understood him better than Pasteur, Both loved 
Science after the same manner; they gave to patriotism its 
real place; they had hopes for the future of the human mind; 
they were moved by the same religious feelings before the 
mysteries of the Infinite. 

Pasteur began by recalling his friend ^s wish: "And here 
am I, before thy cold remains, obliged to ask my memory what 
thou wert in order to repeat it to the multitude crowding around 
thy coffin. But how superfluous! Thy sympathetic counten- 
ance, thy witty merriment and frank smile, the sound of thy 
voice remain with us and live within us. The earth which 
bears us, the air we breathe, the elements, often interrogated 
and ever docile to answer thee, could speak to us of thee. Thy 
services to Science are known to the whole world, and every 
one who has appreciated the progress of the human mind is now 
mourning for thee." 

He then enumerated the scientist's qualities, the inventive 
precision of that eager mind, full of imagination, and at the 
same time the strictness of analysis and the fruitful teaching so 
delightedly recognized by those who had worked with him, 
Debray, Troost, Fouque, Grandeau, Hautefeuille, Gernez, 
Lechartier. Then, showing that, in Sainte Claire Deviile, 
the man equalled the scientist : 

''Shall I now say what thou wert in private life? Again, 
how superfluous! Thy friends do not want to be reminded 
of thy warm heart. Thy pupils want no proofs of thy affection 
for them and thy devotion in being of service to them! See 
their sorrow. 

''Should I tell thy sons, thy five sons, thy joy and pride, of 
the preoccupations of thy paternal and prudent tenderness? 
And can I speak of thy smiling goodness to her, the com- 
panion of thy life, the mere thought of whom filled thy eyes 
with a sweet emotion? 

"Oh! I implore thee, do not now look down upon thy weep- 
ing wife and afflicted eons: thou wouldst regret this life too 


much Wait for them rather in those divine regions of know- 
ledge and full light, where thou knowest all now, where thou 
canst understand the Infinite itself, that terrible and bewildering 
notion, closed for ever to man in this world, and yet the eternal 
source of all Grandeur, of all Justice and all Liberty/' 

Pasteur's voice was almost stifled by his tears, as had been 
that of J. B. Dumas speaking at Peclet's tomb. The emotions 
of savants are all the deeper that they are not enfeebled, as in 
so many writers or speakers, by the constant use of words 
which end by wearing out the feelings. 

Little groups slowly walking away from a country church- 
yard seem to take with them some of the sadness they have 
been feeling, but the departure from a Paris cemetery gives a 
very different impression. Life immediately grasps again and 
carries away in its movement the mourners, who now look as if 
they had been witnessing an incident in which they were not 
concerned. Pasteur felt such bitter contrasts with all his 
tender soul, he had a cult for dear memories; Sainte Claire 
Deville 's portrait ever remained in his study. 

The adversaries of the new discovery now had recourse to a 
new mode of attack. The virus which had been used at Pouilly 
le Fort to show how efficacious were the preventive vaccina- 
tions was, they said, a culture virus — some even said a 
Machiavellian preparation of Pasteur's. Would vaccinated 
animals resist equally well the action of the charbon blood 
itself, the really malignant and infallibly deadly blood? Those 
sceptics were therefore impatiently awaiting the result of some 
experiments which were being carried out near Chartres in the 
farm of Lambert. Sixteen Beauceron sheep were joined to a 
lot of nineteen sheep brought from Alfort and taken from the 
herd of 300 sheep vaccinated against charbon three weeks 
before, on the very day of the lecture at Alfort. On July 16, 
at 10 o'clock in the morning, the thirty-five sheep, vaccinated 
and non-vaccinated, were gathered together. The corpse of a 
sheep who had died of charbon four hours before, in a neigh- 
bouring farm, was brought into the field selected for the experi- 
ments. After making a post-mortem examination and noting 
the characteristic injuries of splenic fever, ten drops of the 
dead sheep's blood were injected into each of the thirty-five 
sheep, taking one vaccinated at Alfort and one non-vaccinated 
Beauceron alternately. Two days later, on July 18, ten of the 

1880—1882 329 

latter were already dead, most of the others were prostrated. 
The vaccinated sheep were perfectly well. 

"While the ten dead sheep were being examined, two more 
died, and three more on the 19th. Bouley, informed by the 
veterinary surgeon, Boiitet, of those successive incidents, wrote 
on the 20th to Pasteur: **My dear Master, Boutet has just 
informed me of the Chartres event. All has been accomplished 
according to the master's words; your vaccinated sheep have 
triumphantly come through the trial, and all the others save 
one are dead. That result is of special importance in a 
countrj^-side where incredulity was being maintained in spite 
of all the demonstrations made. It seems that the doctors 
especially were refractory. They said it was too good to be 
true, and they counted on the strength of the natural charbon 
to find your method in default. Now they are converted, 
Boutet writes, and the veterinary surgeon too — one amongst 
others, whose brain, it seems, was absolutely iron-clad — also 
the agricultors. There is a general Hosannah in your honour.*' 

After congratulating Pasteur on the Grand Cross, he added, 
"I was also very glad of the reward you have obtained for 
your two young collaborators, so full of your spirit, so devoted 
to your work and your person, and whose assistance is so self- 
sacrificing and disinterested. The Government has honoured 
itself by so happily crowning with that distinction the great- 
ness of the discovery in which they took part.'' 

Henceforth, and for a time, systematic opposition ceased. 
Thousands and thousands of doses were used of the new 
vaccine, which afterwards saved millions to agriculture. 

A few days later, came a change in Pasteur's surroundings. 
He was invited by the Organizing Committee to attend the 
International Medical Congress in London, and desired by the 
Government of the Republic to represent France. 

On August 3, when he arrived in St. James' Hall, filled to 
overflowing, from the stalls to the topmost galleries, he was 
recognized by one of the stewards, who invited him to come to 
the platform reserv^ed for the most illustrious members of the 
Congress. As he was going towards the platform, there was 
an outburst of applause, hurrahs and acclamations. Pasteur 
tr»rned to his two companions, his son and his son-in-law, and 
said, with a little uneasiness: *'It is no doubt the Prince of 
AVales arriving; I ought to have come sooner." 

''But it is you that they are all cheering," said the Presi- 


dent of the Congress, Sir James Paget, with his grave, kindly 

A few moments later, the Prince of "Wales entered, accom- 
panying his brother-in-law, the German Crown Prince. 

In his speech. Sir James Paget said that medical science 
should aim at three objects: novelty, utility and charity. The 
only scientist named was Pasteur; the applause was such that 
Pasteur, who was sitting behind Sir James Paget, had to rise 
and bow to the huge assembly. 

*'I felt very proud," wrote Pasteur to Mme. Pasteur in a 
letter dated that same day, "I felt inwardly very proud, not 
for myself — you know how little I care for triumph! — but for 
my country, in seeing that I was specially distinguished among 
that immense concourse of foreigners, especially of Germans, 
who are here in much greater numbers than the French, whose 
total, however, reaches two hundred and fifty. Jean Baptiste 
and Rene were in the Hall ; you can imagine their emotior 

*' After the meeting, we lunched at Sir James Paget 's 
house ; he had the Prussian Crown Prince on his right and the 
Prince of Wales on his left. Then there was a gathering of 
about twenty-five or thirty guests in the drawing-room. Sir 
James presented me to the Prince of Wales, to whom I bowed, 
saying that I was happy to salute a friend to France. *Yes,* 
he answered, *a great friend.' Sir James Paget had the good 
taste not to ask me to be presented to the Prince of Prussia », 
though there is of course room for nothing but courtesy under 
such circumstances, I could not have brought myself to appear 
to \vish to be presented to him. But he himself came up to 
me and said, *M. Pasteur, allow me to introduce myself to 
you, and to tell you that I had great pleasure in applauding 
you just now,' adding some more pleasant things.'' 

In the midst of the unexpected meetings brought about by 
that Congress, it was an interesting thing to see this son of a 
King and Emperor, the heir to the German crown, thus going 
towards that Frenchman whose conquests were made over 
<lisease and death. Of what glory might one day dream this 
Prince, who became Frederic III ! 

His tall and commanding stature, the highest position in the 
Prussian army conferred on him by his father. King William, 
in a solemn letter dated from Versailles, October, 1870 — every- 
thing seemed to combine in making a warlike man of this 
powerful-looking prince. And yet was it not said in France 

1880—1882 331 

that he had protested against certain barbarities, coldly- 
executed by some Prussian generals during that campaign of 
1870? Had he not considered the clauses of the Treaty of 
Frankfort as Draconian and dangerous? If he had been sole 
master, would he have torn Alsace away from France? What 
share would his coming reign bear in the history of civiliza- 
tion? . . . Fate had already marked this Prince, only fifty 
years old, for an approaching death. In his great sufferings, 
before the inexorable death which was suffocating him, he was 
heroically patient. His long agony began at San Remo, 
amongst the roses and sunshine; he was an Emperor for less 
than one hundred days, and, on his death-bed, words of peace, 
peace for his people, were on his lips. 

As Pasteur, coming to this Congress, was not only curious to 
see what was the place held in medicine and surgery by the 
germ-theory, but also desirous to learn as much as possible, he 
never missed a discussion and attended every meeting. It was 
in a simple sectional meeting that Bastian attempted to refute 
Lister. After his speech, the President suddenly said, ''I call 
on M. Pasteur," though Pasteur had not risen. There was 
great applause; Pasteur did not know English; he turned to 
Lister and asked him what Bastian had said. 

"He said," whispered Lister, ''that microscopic organiza- 
tions in disease were formed by the tissues themselves." 

''That is enough for me," said Pasteur. And he then 
invited Bastian to try the following experiment : 

"Take an animal's limb, crush it, allow blood and other 
normal or abnormal liquids to spread around the bones, only 
taking care that the skin should neither be torn nor opened in 
any way, and I defy you to see any micro-organism formed 
within that limb as long as the illness will last." 

Pasteur, desired to do so by Sir James Paget at one of the 
great General Meetings of the Congress, gave a lecture on the 
principles which had led him to the attenuation of virus, on 
the methods which had enabled him to obtain the vaccines of 
chicken-cholera and of charbon, and, finally, on the results 
obtained. "In a fortnight," he said, "we vaccinated, in the 
Departments surrounding Paris, nearly 20,000 sheep, and a 
great many oxen, cows and horses. . . . 

"Allow me," he continued, "not to conclude without telling 
^>ou of the great joy that I feel in thinking that it is as a 
Jiember of the International Medical Congress sitting in 


London that I have made known to you the Taccination of 
a disease more terrible perhaps for domestic animals than is 
small-pox for man. I have given to the word vaccination an 
extension which I nope Science will consecrate as a homage 
to the merit and immense services rendered by your Jenner, 
one of England's greatest men. It is a great happiness to me 
to glorify that immortal name on the very soil of the noble and 
hospitable city of London!" 

''Pasteur was the greatest success of the Congress/* wrote 
the correspondent of the Journal des Dehats, Dr. Daremberg, 
glad as a Frenchman and as a physician to hear the unanimous 
hurrahs which greeted the delegate of France. "When M. 
Pasteur spoke, when his name was mentioned, a thunder of 
applause rose from all benches, from all nations. An indefatig- 
able worker, a sagacious seeker, a precise and brilliant experi- 
mentalist, an implacable logician, and an enthusiastic apostle, 
he has produced an invincible effect on every mind. ' ^ 

The English people, who chiefly look in a great man for 
power of initiative and strength of character, shared this 
admiration. One group only, alone in darkness, away from 
the Congress, was hostile to the general movement and was 
looking for an opportunity for direct or indirect revenge ; it was 
the group of anti-vaccinators and anti-vivisectionists. The 
influence of the latter was great enough in England to prevent 
experimentation on animals. At a general meeting of the 
Congress, Virchow, the German scientist, spoke on the use of 
experimenting in pathology. 

Already at a preceding Congress held in Amsterdam, Virchow 
had said amid the applause of the Assembly: ''Those who 
attack vivisection have not the faintest idea of Science, and 
even less of the importance and utility of vivisection for the 
progress of medicine." But to this just argument, the interna- 
tional leagues for the protection of animals — very powerful, 
like ever3l:hing that is founded on a sentiment which may be 
exalted — had answered by combative phrases. The physio- 
logical laboratories were compared to chambers of torture. 
It seemed as if, through caprice or cruelty, quite uselessly at 
any rate, this and that man of science had the unique desire 
of inflicting on bound animals, secured on a board, sufferings 
of which death was the only limit. It is easy to excite pity 
towards animals; an audience is conquered as soon as dogs 
are mentioned. Which of us, whether a cherished child, a 

1880—1882 333 

neglected old maid, a man in the prime of his youth or a 
misanthrope weary of everything, has not, holding the best 
place in his recollections, the memory of some example of 
fidelity, courage or devotion given by a dog? In order to 
raise the revolt, it was sufficient for anti-vivisectionists to evoke 
amongst the ghosts of dog martyrs the oft-quoted dog who, 
whilst undergoing an experiment, licked the hand of the 
operator. As there had been some cruel abuses on the nart of 
certain students, those abuses alone were quoted. Scientists 
did not pay much heed to this agitation, partly a feminine 
one : they relied on the good sense of the public to put an end 
to those doleful declamations. But the English Parliament 
voted a Bill prohibiting vivisection; and, after 1876, English 
experimentalists had to cross the Channel to inoculate a guinea- 

Virchow did not go into details; but, in a wide expose of 
Experimental Physiological Medicine, he recalled how, at each 
new progress of Science — at one time against the dissection 
of dead bodies and now against experiments on li\ing 
animals — the same passionate criticisms had been renewed. 
The Interdiction Bill voted in England had filled a new 
Leipzig Society with ardour; it had asked the Reichstag 
in that same year, 1881, to pass a law punishing cruelty to 
animals under pretext of scientific research, by imprison- 
ment, varying between five weeks and two years, and de- 
privation of civil rights. Other societies did not go quite so 
far, but asked that some of their members should have a 
right of entrance and inspection into the laboratories of the 

"He w^ho takes more interest in animals than in Science 
and in the knowledge of truth is not qualified to inspect officially 
things pertaining to Science," said Virchow. With an 
ironical gravity on his quizzical wrinkled face, he added, 
''Where shall we be if a scientist who has just begun a bona 
fide experiment finds himself, in the midst of his researches, 
obliged to answer questions from a new-comer and afterwards 
to defend himself before some magistrate for the crime of not 
having chosen another method, other instruments, perhaps 
another experiment? . . . 

''We must prove to the whole world the soundness of our 
cause," concluded Virchow, uneasy at those "leagues" which 
^rew and multiplied, and scattered through innumerable 


lecture halls the most fallacious judgments on the work of 

Pasteur might have brought him, to support his statements 
relative to certain deviations of ideas and sentiments, number- 
less letters which reached him regularly from England — letters 
full of threats, insults and maledictions, devoting him to 
eternal torments for having multiplied his crimes on the hens, 
guinea-pigs, dogs and sheep of the laboratory. Love of animals 
carries some women to such lengths ! 

It would have been interesting, if, after Yirchow's speech, 
some French physician had in his turn related a series of facts^ 
showing how prejudices equally tenacious had had to be 
struggled against in France, and how savants had succeeded 
in enforcing the certainty that there can be no pathological 
science if Physiology is not progressing, and that it can only 
progress by means of the experimental method. Claude 
Bernard had expressed this idea under so many forma 
that it would almost have been enough to give a few extracta 
from his works. 

In 1841, when he was Magendie's curator, he was one day 
attending a lesson on experimental j^hysiology, when he saw 
an old man come in, whose costume — a long coat with a 
straight collar and a hat with a very wide brim — indicated a 

^'Thou hast no right,*' he said, addressing Magendie, **to 
kill animals or to make them suffer. Thou givest a wicked 
example and thou accustomest thy fellow creatures to cruelty.'* 

Magendie replied that it was a pity to look at it from that 
point of view, and that a physiologist, when moved by the 
thought of making a discovery useful to Medicine, and conse- 
quently useful to his fellow creatures, did not deserve that 

''Your countryman Harvey,*^ said he, hoping to convince 
him, ''would not have discovered the circulation of the blood 
if he had not made some experiments in vivisection. That 
discovery was surely worth the sacrifice of a few deer in Charles 
the First 's Park ? ' * 

But the Quaker stuck to his idea; his mission, he said, was 
to drive three things from this world : war, hunting and shoot- 
ing, and experiments on live animals. Magendie had to show 
him out. 

Three years later, Claude Bernard, in his turn, was taxed 

1880—1882 335 

with barbarity by a Police Magistrate. In order to study the 
digestive properties of gastric juice, it had occurred to him to 
collect it by means of a cannula, a sort of silver tap which he 
adapted to the stomach of live dogs. A Berlin surgeon, M. 
Dieffenbach, who was staying in Paris, expressed a wish to 
see this application of a cannula to the stomach. M. Pelouze, 
the chemist, had a laboratory in the Rue Dauphine; he offered 
it to Claude Bernard. A stray dog was used as a subject for 
the experiment and shut up in the yard of the house, where 
Claude Bernard wished to keep a watch on him. But, as the 
treatment in no wise hindered the dog from running about, the 
door of the yard was hardly opened when he escaped, cannula 
and all. 

**A few davs later," writes Claude Bernard in the course of 
an otherwise grave report concerning the progress of general 
physiology in France (1867), *'I was still in bed, early one 
morning, when I received a visit from a man who came to tell 
me that the Police Commissary of the Medicine School Dis- 
trict wished to speak to me, and that I must go round to see 
him. I went in the course of the day to the Police Com- 
missariat of the Rue du Jardinet; I found a very respectable- 
looking little old man, who received me very coldly at first and 
without saying anything. He took me into another room and 
showed me, to my great astonishment, the dog on whom I had 
operated in M. Pelouze 's laboratory, asking me if I confessed 
to having fixed that instrument in his stomach. I answered 
affirmatively, adding that I was delighted to see my cannula, 
which I thought I had lost. This confession, far from satisfy- 
ing the Commissary, apparently provoked his wrath, for he 
gave me an admonition of most exaggerated severity, accom- 
panied with threats for having had the audacity to steal his 
dog to experiment on it. 

'*I explained that I had not stolen his dog, but that I had 
bought it of some individuals who sold dogs to physiologists, 
and who claimed to be employed by the police in picking up 
stray dogs. I added that I was sorry to have been the involun- 
tary cause of the grief occasioned in his household by the mis- 
adventure to the dog, but that the animal would not die of it; 
that the only thing to do was to let me take away my silver 
cannula and let him keep his dog. Those last words altered 
the Commissary's language and completely calmed his wife 
and daughter. I removed my instrument and left, promising 


to return, which I did the next and following days. The dog 
was perfectly cured in a day or two, and I became a friend of 
the family, completely securing the Commissary's future pro- 
tection. It was on that account that I soon after set up my 
laboratory in his District, and for many years continued my 
private classes of experimental physiology, enjoying the pro- 
tection and warnings of the Commissary and thus avoiding 
much unpleasantness, until the time when I was at last made 
an assistant to Magendie at the College de France." 

The London Society for the Protection of Animals had the 
singular idea of sending to Napoleon III complaints, almost 
remonstrances, on the vivisection practised within the French 
Empire. The Emperor simply sent on those English lamenta- 
tions to the Academy of Medicine. The matter was prolonged 
by academical speeches. In a letter addressed to M. Grandeau, 
undated, but evidently written in August, 1863, Claude 
Bernard showed some irritation, a rare thing with him. 
Declaring that he would not go to the Academy and listen to 
the ''nonsense" of ''those who protect animals in hatred of 
mankind" he gave his concluding epitome: "You ask me 
what are the principal discoveries due to vivisection, so that 
you can mention them as arguments for that kind of study. 
All the knowledge possessed by experimental physiology can 
be quoted in that connection; there is not a single fact which 
is not the direct and necessary consequence of vivisection. 
From Galen, who, by cutting the laryngeal nerves, learnt their 
use for respiration and the voice, to Harvey, who discovered 
circulation; Pecquet and Aselli, the lymphatic vessels; Haller, 
muscular irritability; Bell and Magendie, the nervous func- 
tions, and all that has been learnt since the extension of that 
method of vivisection, which is the only experimental method; 
in biology, all that is known on digestion, circulation, the 
liver, the sympathetic system, the bones. Development — all, 
absolutely all, is the result of vivisection, alone or combined 
with other means of study." 

In 1875, he again returned to this idea in his experimental 
medicine classes at the College de France: "It is to experi- 
mentation that we owe all our precise notions on the functions 
of the viscera and a fortiori on the properties of such organs 
as muscles, nerves, etc." 

One more interesting quotation might have been offered to 
the members of the Congress. A Swede had questioned 

1880—1882 337 

Darwin on vivisection, for the anti-vivisectionist propaganda 
was spreading on every side. Darwin, who, like Pasteur, did 
not admit that useless suffering should be inflicted on animals 
(Pasteur carried this so far that he would never, he said, have 
had the courage to shoot a bird for sport) — Darwin, in a letter 
dated April 14th, 1881, approved any measures that could be 
taken to prevent cruelty, but he added: *'0n the other hand, 
I know that physiology can make no progress if experiments 
on living animals are suppressed, and I have an intimate con- 
viction that to retard the progress of physiology is to commit 
a crime against humanity. . . . Unless one is absolutely igno- 
rant of all that Science has done for humanity, one must be 
convinced that physiology is destined to render incalculable 
benefits in the future to man and even to animals. See 
the results obtained by M. Pasteur's work on the germs 
of contagious diseases: will not animals be the first to 
profit thereby? How many lives have been saved, how much 
suffering spared by the discovery of parasitic worms following 
on experiments made by Yirchow and others on living 
animals ! ' ' 

The London Congress marked a step on the road of progress. 
Besides the questions which were discussed and which were 
capable of precise solution, the scientific spirit showed itself 
susceptible of permeating other general subjects. Instead of 
remaining the impassive Sovereign we are wont to fancy her, 
Science — and this was proved by Pasteur's discoveries and 
their consequences, as Paget, TyndaU, Lister, and Priestley 
loudly proclaimed — Science showed herself capable of associat- 
ing with pure research and perpetual care for Truth a deep 
feeling of compassion for all suffering and an ever-growing 
thirst for self -sacrifice. 

Pasteur's speech at the London Medical Congress was 
printed at the request of an English M.P. and distributed to 
all the members of the House of Commons. Dr. H. Gueneau 
de Mussy, who had spent part of his life in England, having 
followed the Orleans family into exile, wrote to Pasteur on 
August 15, ^*I have been very happy in witnessing your 
triumph; you are raising us up again in the eyes of foreign 

Applause was to Pasteur but a stimulus to further efforts. 
He was proud of his discoveries, but not vain of the effect they 
produced; he said in a private letter: "The Temps again 


refers, in a London letter, to my speech at the Congress. What 
an unexpected success!" 

Having heard that yellow fever had just been brought into 
the Gironde, at the Pauillac lazaretto by the vessel Conde from 
Senegal, Pasteur immediately started for Bordeaux. He 
hoped to find the microbe in the blood of the sick or the dead, 
and to succeed in cultivating it. M. Roux hastened to join his 

If people spoke to Pasteur of the danger of infection, *'What 
does it matter?" he said. *'Life in the midst of danger is 
the life, the real life, the life of sacrifice, of example, of 
f ruitf ulness. " 

He vi^as vexed to find his arrival notified in the newspapers; 
it worried him not to be able to work and to travel incognito. 

On September 17, he wrote to Mme. Pasteur: **. . . We 
rowed out to a great transport ship which is lying in the 
Pauillac roads, having just arrived. From our boat, we were 
able to speak to the men of the crew. Their health is good, 
but they lost seven persons at St. Louis, two passengers and 
five men of the crew. Save the captain and one engineer, they 
are all Senegalese negroes on that ship. We have been near 
another large steamboat, and yet another; their health is 
equally good. . . . 

''The most afflicted ship is the Conde, which is in quaran- 
tine in the Pauillac roads, and near which we have not been 
able to go. She has lost eighteen persons, either at sea or at 
the lazaretto. ..." 

No experiment could be attempted — ^the patients were con- 
valescent. ''But," he wrote the next day, "the Richelieu 
will arrive between the 25th and 28th, I think with some 
passengers. ... It is more than likely that there will have 
been deaths during the passage, and patients for the lazaretto. 
I am therefore awaiting the arrival of that ship with the hopf^ 
— God forgive a scientist's passion!! — that I may attempt 
some researches at the Pauillac lazaretto, where I will arrange 
things in consequence. You may be sure I shall take 
every precaution. In the meanwhile, what shall I do in 
Bordeaux ? 

"I have made the acquaintance of the young librarian of 
the town library, which is a few doors from the Hotel 
Richelieu, in the Avenues of Tourny. The library is opened 
to me at all hours: I am there even now, alone and very com- 

1880—1882 33^ 

fortably seated, surrounded with more Littre than I can 
possibly get through." 

For some months, several members of the Academie 
Frangaise — according to the traditions of the Society which 
has ever thought it an honour to number among its members 
scientists such as Cuvier, Flourens, Biot, Claude Bernard, 
J. B. Dumas — had been urging Pasteur to become a candidate to 
the place left vacant by Littre. Pasteur was anxious to know 
not only the works, but the life of him whose place he might 
be called upon to fill. It was with some emotion that he first 
came upon the following lines printed on the title-page of the 
translation of the works of Hippocrates; the^^ are a dedication 
by Littre to the memory of his father, a sergeant-major in the 
Marines under the Revolution. 

'\ . . Prepared by his lessons and by his example, I have 
been sustained through this long work by his ever present 
memory. I wish to inscribe his name on the first page of this 
book, in the writing of which he has had so much share from 
his grave, so that the work of the father should not be forgotten 
in the work of the son, and that a pious and just gratitude 
should connect the work of the living with the heritage of the 
dead. ..." 

Pasteur in 1876 had obeyed a similar filial feeling when he 
wrote on the first page of his Studies on Beer — 

*'To the memory of my father, a soldier under the first 
Empire, and a knight of the Legion of Honour. The more 
I have advanced in age, the better I have understood thy love 
and the superiority of thy reason. The efforts I have given 
to these Studies and those which have preceded them are the 
fruit of thy example and advice. "Wishing to honor these 
pious recollections, I dedicate this work to thy memory." 

The two dedications are very similar. Those two soldiers'^ 
sons had kept the virile imprint of the paternal virtues. A 
great tenderness was also in them both; Littre, when he lost 
his mother, had felt a terrible grief, comparable to Pasteur ^s 
under the same circumstances. 

In spite of Pasteur ^s interest in studying Littre in the 
Bordeaux library, he did not cease thinking of yellow fever. 
He often saw M. Berchon, the sanitary director, and inquired 
of him whether there were any news of the Richelieu. A 
young physician, Dr. Talmy, had expressed a desire to join 
Pasteur at Bordeaux and to obtain permission, when the time 


came, to be shut up with the patients in the lazaretto. Pasteur 
wrote on December 25 to Mme. Pasteur: *' There is nothing 
new save the Minister's authorization to Dr. Talmy to enter 
the lazaretto; I have just telegraphed, to him that he might 
start. The owners of the Richelieu still suppose that she will 
reach Pauillac on Tuesday. M. Berchon, who is the first to 
be informed of what takes place in the roads, will send me a 
telegram as soon as the Richelieu is signalled, and we shall 
then go — M. Talmj^ Roux and I — to ascertain the state of 
the ship, of course without going on board, which we should 
not be allowed to do if it has a suspicious bill of health." 

And, as Mme. Pasteur had asked what happened when a 
ship arrived, he continued in the same letter: **From his 
boat to windward, M. Berchon receives the ship's papers, 
giving the sanitary state of the ship day by day. Before pass- 
ing from the hands of the captain of the vessel to those of the 
sanitary director, the papers are sprinkled over with chloride 
of lime. 

^*If there are cases of illness, all the passengers are taken 
to the lazaretto; only a few men are left on board the ship, 
which is henceforth in quarantine, no one being allowed to 
leave or enter it. 

**God permit that, in the body of one of those unfortunate 
victims of medical ignorance, I may discover some specific 
microscopic being. And after that? Afterwards, it would be 
really beautiful to make that agent of disease and death become 
its own vaccine. Yellow fever is one of the three great scourges 
of the East — bubonic plague, cholera, and yellow fever. Do 
you know that it is already a fine thing to be able to put the 
problem in those words ! ' ' 

The Richelieu arrived, but she was free from fever. The 
last passenger had died during the crossing and his body had 
been thrown into the sea. 

Pasteur left Bordeaux and returned to his laboratory. 



Pasteur was in the midst of some new experiments when he 
heard that the date of the election to the Academie Francaise 
was fixed for December 8. Certain candidates spent half their 
time in fiacres, paying the traditional calls, counting the 
voters, calculating their chances, and taking every polite phrase 
for a promise. Pasteur, with perfect simplicity, contented 
himself with saying to the Academicians whom he went to see, 
*'I had never in my life contemplated the great honour of 
entering the Academie Frangaise. People have been kind 
enough to say to me, 'Stand and you will be elected.' It is 
impossible to resist an invitation so glorious for Science and 
so flattering to myself." 

One member of the Academie, Alexandre Dumas, refused to 
Jet Pasteur call on him. '*I will not allow him to come and 
see me," he said; *'I will myself go and thank him for consent- 
ing to become one of us." He agreed with M. Grandeau, who 
wrote to Pasteur that "when Claude Bernard and Pasteur con- 
sent to enter the ranks of a Society, all the honour is for the 

When Pasteur was elected, his youthfulness of sentiment was 
made apparent; it seemed to him an immense honour to be 
one of the Forty. He therefore prepared his reception speech 
with the greatest care, without however allowing his scientific 
work to suffer. The life of his predecessor interested him more 
and more ; to work in the midst of family intimacy had evidently 
been Littre's ideal of happiness. 

Few people, beyond Littre's colleagues, know that his wife 
and daughter collaborated in his great work; they looked out 
the quotations necessary to that Dictionary, of which, if laid 
end to end, the columns would reach a length of thirty- 
seven kilometres. The Dictionary, commenced in 1857, when 


Littre was almost sixty years old, was only interrupted twice: 
in 1861, when Auguste Comte's widow asked Littre for a 
biography of the founder of positive philosophy; and in 1870, 
when the life of France was compromised and arrested during: 
long months. 

Littre, poor and disinterested as he was, had been able to 
realize his only dream, which was to possess a house in the 
country. Pasteur, bringing to bear in this, as in all things, 
his habits of scrupulous accuracy, left his laboratorj^ for one 
day, and visited that villa, situated near Maisons-Laffitte. 

The gardener who opened the door to him might have been 
the owner of that humble dwelling; the house was in a bad 
state of repair, but the small garden gave a look of comfort to 
the little property. It had been the only luxury of the 
philosopher, who enjoyed cultivating vegetables while quoting 
Virgil, Horace or La Fontaine, and listened to the nightingale 
when early dawn found him still sitting at his work. 

After visiting this house and garden, reflecting as they did 
the life of a sage, Pasteur said sadly, *'Is it possible that such 
a man should have been so misjudged!" 

A crucifix, hanging in the room where Littre *s family were 
wont to work, testified to his respect for the beliefs of his wife 
and daughter. ''1 know too well," he said one day, **what 
are the sufferings and difficulties of human life, to wish to take 
from any one convictions which may comfort them." 

Pasteur also studied the Positivist doctrine of which Auguste 
Oomte had been the pontiff and Littre the prophet. This 
scientific conception of the world affirms nothing, denies 
nothing, beyond what is visible and easily demonstrated. It 
suggests altruism, a ''subordination of personality to 
sociability," it inspires patriotism and the love of humanity. 
Pasteur, in his scrupulously positive and accurate work, his 
constant thought for others, his seK-sacrificing devotion to 
humanity, might have been supposed to be an adept of this 
doctrine. But he found it lacking in one great point. 
*' Positivism, " he said, ''does not take into account the most 
important of positive notions, that of the Infinite." He won- 
dered that Positivism should confine the mind within limits; 
with an impulse of deep feeling, Pasteur, the scientist, the slow 
and precise observer, wrote the follov^ing passage in hi? 
speech: **What is beyond? the human mind, actuated by an 
invincible force, w^ll never cease to ask itself: What is 

1882—1884 343 

beyond? ... It is of no use to answer: Beyond is limitless 
space, limitless time or limitless grandeur; no one understands 
those words. He who proclaims the existence of the Infinite 
— and none can avoid it — accumulates in that aflarmation more 
of the supernatural than is to be found in all the miracles of 
all the religions; for the notion of the Infinite presents that 
double character that it forces itself upon us and yet is incom- 
prehensible. When this notion seizes upon our understand- 
ing, we can but kneel. ... I see everywhere the inevitable 
expression of the Infinite in the world; through it, the super- 
natural is at the bottom of every heart. The idea of God is a 
form of the idea of the Infinite. As long as the mystery of the 
Infinite weighs on human thought, temples will be erected 
for the worship of the Infinite, whether God is called Brahma, 
AUah, Jehovah, or Jesus; and on the pavement of those 
temples, men will be seen kneeling, prostrate, annihilated in 
the thought of the Infinite." 

At that time, when triumphant Positivism was inspiring 
many leaders of men, the very man who might have given him- 
self up to what he called "the enchantment of Science" pro 
<ilaimed the Mystery of the universe; with, his intellectual 
humility, Pasteur bowed before a Power greater than human 
power. He continued with the following words, worthy of 
being preserved for ever, for they are of those which pass over 
humanity like a Divine breath: ** Blessed is he who carries 
within himself a God, an ideal, and who obeys it; ideal of art, 
ideal of science, ideal of the gospel virtues, therein lie the 
springs of great thoughts and great actions; they all reflect 
light from the Infinite." 

Pasteur concluded by a supreme homage to Littre. "Often 
have I fancied him seated by his wife, as in a picture of early 
Christian times: he, looking do^vn upon earth, full of com- 
passion for human suffering; she, a fervent Catholic, her eyes 
raised to heaven: he, inspired by all earthly virtues; she, by 
every Divine grandeur; uniting in one impulse and in one 
heart the twofold holiness which forms the aureole of the Man- 
God, the one proceeding from devotion to humanity, the other 
emanating from ardent love for the Divinity: she a saint in 
the canonic sense of the word, he a lay-saint. This last word 
is not mine ; I have gathered it on the lips of all those that 
knew him." 

The two collea?:ues whom Pasteur had chosen for his 


Academic sponsors were J. B. Dumas and Nisard. Dumas, 
who appreciated more than any one the scientific progress due 
to Pasteur, and who applauded his brilliant success, was 
touched by the simplicity and modesty which his former pupil 
showed, now as in the distant past, when the then obscure 
young man sat taking notes on the Sorbonne benches. 

Their mutual relationship had remained unchanged when 
Pasteur, accompanied by one of his family, rang at Dumas* 
door in March, 1882, with the manuscript of his noble speech 
in his pocket ; he seemed more like a student, respectfully call- 
ing on his master, than like a savant affectionately visiting a 

Dumas received Pasteur in a little private study adjoining 
the fine drawing-room where he was accustomed to dispense 
an elegant hospitality. Pasteur drew a stool up to a table and 
began to read, but in a shy and hurried manner, without even 
raising his eyes towards Dumas, who listened, enthroned in 
his armchair, with an occasional murmur of approbation. 
Whilst Pasteur's careworn face revealed some of his ardent 
struggles and persevering work, nothing perturbed Dumas* 
grave and gentle countenance. His smile, at most times pru- 
dently affable and benevolent in varying degree, now frankly 
illumined his face as he congratulated Pasteur. He called to 
mind his own reception speech at the Academy when he had 
succeeded Guizot, and the fact that he too had concluded by a 
confession of faith in his Creator. 

Pasteur's other sponsor, Nisard, almost an octogenarian, 
was not so happy as Dumas ; death had deprived him of almost 
all his old friends. It was a great joy to him when Pasteur 
came to see him on the wintry Sunday afternoons; he fancied 
himself back again at the Ecole Normale and the happy days 
when he reigned supreme in that establishment. Pasteur's 
deference, greater even perhaps than it had been in former 
times, aided the delightful delusion. Though Nisard was ever 
inclined to bring a shade of patronage into every intimacy, he 
was a conversationalist of the old and rare stamp. Pasteur 
enjoyed hearing Nisard 's recollections and watching for a smile 
lighting up the almost blind face. Those Sunday talks 
reminded him of the old delightful conversations with Chappuis 
at the Besangon College when, in their youthful fervour, they 
read together Andre Chenier's and Lamartine's verses. 
Eighteen years later, Pasteur had not missed one of Saints 

1882— 1884 34:5 

^euve's lectures to the Ecole Normale students; he liked that 
varied and penetrating criticism, opening sidelights on every 
point of the literary horizon. Nisard understood criticism 
rather as a solemn treaty, with clauses and conditions; with 
his taste for hierarchy, he even gave different ranks to authors 
as if they had been students before his chair. But, when he 
spoke, the rigidity of his system was enveloped in the grace 
of his conversation. Pasteur had but a restricted corner of his 
mind to give to literature, but that corner was a privileged 
one; he only read what was really worth reading, and every 
writer worthy of the name inspired him with more than esteem, 
with absolute respect. He had a most exalted idea of Literature 
and its influence on society; he was saying one day to Nisard 
that Literature was a great educator: **The mind alone can 
if necessary suffice to Science; both the mind and the heart 
intervene in Literature, and that explains the secret of its 
superiority in leading the general train of thought." This was 
preaching to an apostle: no homage to literature ever seemed 
too great in the eyes of Nisard. 

He approved of the modest exordium in Pasteur's speech — 

''At this moment when presenting mj^self before this illus- 
trious assembly, I feel once more the emotion with which I first 
solicited your suffrages. The sense of my own inadequacy is 
borne in upon me afresh, and I should feel some confusion in 
finding myself in this place, were it not my duty to attribute 
to Science itself the honour — so to speak, an impersonal one-- 
which you have bestowed upon me. ' ' 

The Permanent Secretary, Camille Doucet, well versed in 
the usages of the Institute, and preoccupied with the effect pro- 
duced, thought that the public would not believe in such self- 
effacement, sincere as it was, and sent the following letter to 
Pasteur with the proof-sheet of his speech — 

''Dear and honoured colleague, allow me to suggest to you a 
modification of your first sentence ; your modesty is excessive. ' ' 

Camille Doucet had struck out the sense of my own 
inadequacy is home in upon me afresh, and further so to speak ^ 
an impersonal one. Pasteur consulted Nisard, and the sense 
of my own inadequacy was replaced by the sense of my 
deficiencies, while Pasteur adhered energetically to so to speak, 
an impersonal one; he saw in his election less a particular dis- 
tinction than a homage rendered to Science in general. 

A reccDtion at the Academic Fran^aise is like ^ sensational 


first night at a theatre; a special public is interested days' 
beforehand in every coming detail. Wives, daughters, sisteu 
of Academicians, great ladies interested in coming candidates, 
widows of deceased Academicians, laureates of various 
Academy prizes — the whole literary world agitates to obtain 
tickets. Pasteur's reception promised to be full of interest, 
some even said piquancy, for it fell to Kenan to welcome him. 

In order to have a foretaste of the contrast between the two 
men it was sufficient to recall Renan's opening speech three 
years before, when he succeeded Claude Bernard. His thanks 
to his colleagues began thus — 

''Your cenaculum is only reached at the age of Ecclesiastes, 
a delightful age of serene cheerfulness, when after a laborious 
prime, it begins to be seen that all is but vanity, but also that 
some vain things are worthy of being lingeringly enjoyed." 

The two minds were as different as the two speeches; 
Pasteur took everything seriously, giving to words their abso- 
lute sense; Renan, an incomparable writer, with his supple, 
undulating style, slipped away and hid himself within the 
sinuosities of his own philosophy. He disliked plain state- 
ments, and was ever ready to deny when others affirmed, even 
if he afterwards blamed excessive negation in his own followers. 
He religiously consoled those whose faith he destroyed, and, 
whilst invoking the Eternal, claimed the right of finding fault 
even there. When applauded by a crowd, he would willingly 
have murmured Noli me tang ere, and even added with his joyful 
mixture of disdain and good-fellowship, ''Let infinitely witty 
men come unto me." 

On that Thursday, April 27, 1882, the Institute was crowded. 
When the noise had subsided, Renan, seated at the desk as 
Director of the Academy between Camille Doucet, the Per- 
manent Secretary, and Maxime du Camp, the Chancellor, 
declared the meeting opened. Pasteur, looking paler than 
usual, rose from his seat, dressed in the customary green- 
embroidered coat of an Academician, wearing across his breast 
the Grand Cordon of the Legion of Honour. In a clear, grave 
voice, he began by expressing his deep gratification, and, with 
the absolute knowledge and sincerity which always compelled 
the attention of his audience, of whatever kind, he proceeded 
to praise his predecessor. There was no artifice of composi- 
tion, no struggle after effect, only a homage to the man, fol- 
lowed almost immediately by a confession of dissent on 

1882—1884 34n 

pkiiosophic questions. He was listened to with attentive 
emotion, and when he showed the error of Positi\dsm in 
attempting to do away with the idea of the Infinite, and pro- 
claimed the instinctive and necessary worship by Man of the 
great Mystery, he seemed to bring out all the weakness and 
the dignity of ]\Ian — passing through this world bowed under 
the law of Toil and with the prescience of the Ideal — into a 
startling and consolatory light. 

One of the privileges of the Academician who receives a new 
member is to remain seated in his armchair before a table, and 
to comfortably prepare to read his own speech, in answer, 
often in contradiction, to the first. Renan, visibly enjoying 
the presidential chair, smiled at the audience with complex 
feelings, understood by some who were his assiduous readers. 
Respect for so much work achieved by a scientist of the first 
rank in the world ; a gratified feeling of the honour which 
reverted to France; some personal pleasure in welcoming such 
a man in the name of the Academic, and, at the same time, in 
the opportunity for a light and ironical answer to Pasteur's 
beliefs — all these sensations were perceptible in Renan 's 
powerful face, the benevolence of whose soft blue eyes was 
corrected by the redoubtable keenness of the smile. 

He began in a caressing voice by acknowledging that the 
Academy was somewhat incompetent to judge of the work 
and glory of Pasteur. ''But," he added, with graceful 
eloquence, "apart from the ground of the doctrine, which is 
not within our attributions, there is. Sir, a greatness on which 
our experience of the human mind gives us a right to 
pronounce an opinion; something which we recognize in the 
most varied applications, which belongs in the same degree to 
Galileo, Pascal, Michael-Angelo, or i\Ioliere: something which 
gives sublimity to the poet, depth to the philosopher, fascina- 
tion to the orator, divination to the scientist. 

''That common basis of all beautiful and true work, that 
divine fire, that indefinable breath which inspires Science, 
Literature, and Art — ^we have found it in you, Sir — it is 
Grenius. No one has walked so surely through the circles of 
elemental nature; your scientific life is like unto a luminous 
tract in the great night of the Infinitesimally Small, in that 
last abyss where life is born." 

After a brilliant and rapid enumeration of the Pastorian 
discoveries, congratulating Pasteur on having touched through 


his art the very confines of the springs of life, Renan went 
on to speak of truth as he would have spoken of a woman: 
*' Truth, Sir, is a great coquette; she will not be sought with 
too much passion, but often is most amenable to indifference. 
She escapes when apparently caught, but gives herself up 
if patiently waited for; revealing herself after farewells have 
been said, but inexorable when loved with too much fervour." 
And further: ''Nature is plebeian, and insists upon work, 
preferring horny hands and careworn brows." 

He then commenced a courteous controversy. Whilst 
Pasteur, with his vision of the Infinite, showed himself as 
religious as Newton, Renan, who enjoyed moral problems, 
spoke of Doubt with delectation. ''The answer to the enigma 
which torments and charms us will never be given to us. 
. . . What matters it, since the imperceptible corner of 
reality which we see is full of delicious harmonies, and since 
life, as bestowed upon us, is an excellent gift, and for each of 
us a revelation of infinite goodness?" 

Legend will probably hand to posterity a picture of Renan 
as he was in those latter days, ironically cheerful and 
unctuously indulgent. But, before attaining the quizzical 
tranquillity he now exhibited to the Academy, he had gone 
through a complete evolution. When about the age of forty- 
eight, he might bitterly have owned that there was not one 
basis of thought which in him had not crumbled to dust. 
Reliefs, political ideas, his ideal of European civilization, all 
had fallen to the ground. After his separation from the 
Church, he had turned to historical science; Germany had 
appeared to him, as once to Madame de Stael and so many 
others, as a refuge for thinkers. It had seemed to him 
that a collaboration between France, England, and Germany 
would create "An invincible trinity, carrying the world along 
the road of progress through reason." But that German 
facade which he took for that of a temple hid behind it the 
most formidable barracks which Europe had ever known, and 
beside it were cannon foundries, death-manufactories, all the 
preparations of the German people for the invasion of France. 
His awakening was bitter; war as practised by the Prussians, 
with a method in their cruelty, filled him with grief. 

Time passed and his art, like a lily of the desert growing 
amongst ruins, gave flowers and perfumes to surrounding 
moral devastation. A mixture of disdain and nobility now 

1882—1884 349 

made him regard as almost imperceptible the number of men 
capable of understanding his philosophical elevation. Pasteur 
had bared his soul; Renan took pleasure in throwing light on 
the intellectual antithesis of certaz::i minds, and on their point*' 
of contact. 

''Allow me, Sir, to recall to you your fine discovery of right 
and left tartaric acids. . . . There are some minds which 
it is as impossible to bring together as it is impossible, accord- 
ing to your own comparison, to fit two gloves one into the 
other. And yet both gloves are equally necessary ; they com- 
plete each other. One's two hands cannot be superposed, they 
may be joined. In the vast bosom of nature, the most diverse 
efforts, added to each other, combine with each other, and 
result in a most majestic unity." 

Renan handled the French language, **this old and admir- 
able language, poor but to those who do not know it," with a 
dexterity, a choice of delicate shades, of tasteful harmonies 
which have never been surpassed. Able as he was to define 
every human feeling, he went on from the above comparison, 
painting divergent intellectual capabilities, to the following 
imprecation against death: ''Death, according to a thought 
admired by M. Littre, is but a function, the last and quietest 
of all. To me it seems odious, hateful, insane, when it lays 
its cold blind hand on virtue and on genius. A voice is ia 
us, which only great and good souls can hear, and that voice 
cries unceasingly 'Truth and Good are the ends of thy life; 
sacrifice all to that goal'; and when, following the call of that 
siren within us, claiming to bear the promises of life, we 
reach the place where the reward should await us, the deceit- 
ful consoler fails us. Philosophy, which had promised us the 
secret of death, makes a lame apology, and the ideal which 
had brought us to the limits of the air we breathe disappears 
from view at the supreme hour when we look for it. Nature *s 
object has been attained; a powerful effort has been realized, 
and then, wdth characteristic carelessness, the enchantress 
abandons us and leaves us to the hooting birds of the night." 

Renan, save in one little sentence in his answer to Pasteur—' 
*'The divine work accomplishes itself by the intimate tendency 
to what is Good and what is True in the universe" — did not 
go further into the statement of his doctrines. Perhaps he 
"thought them too austere for his audience; he was wont to 
ischew critical And relig^o."'? ^onsidex'ations when in a world 


which he looked upon as frivolous. Moreover, he thought hi? 
own century amusing, and was willing to amuse it further. 
If he raised his eyes to Heaven, he said that we owe virtue 
to the Eternal, but that we have the right to add to it irony^ 
Pasteur thought it strange that irony should be applied to 
subjects which have beset so many great minds and which so 
many simple hearts solve in their own way. 

The week which followed Pasteur's reception at the Aca* 
d6mie Francaise brought him a manifestation of applause 
in the provinces. The town of Aubenas in the Ardeche 
was erecting a statue to Olivier de Serres, and desired to asso- 
ciate with the name of the founder of the silk industry in 
France in the sixteenth century that of its preserver in the 

This was the second time that a French town proclaimed 
its gratitude towards Pasteur, A few months before, the 
Melun Agricultural Society had held a special meeting in his 
honour, and had decided *'to strike a medal with Pasteur's 
effigy on it, in commemoration of one of the greatest services 
ever rendered by Science to Agriculture." 

But amidst this paean of praise, Pasteur, instead of dwelling 
complacently on the recollection of his experiments at Pouilly 
le Fort, was absorbed in one idea, characteristic of the man: 
he wanted to at once begin some experiments on the peri- 
pneumonia of horned cattle. The veterinary surgeon, 
Rossignol, had just been speaking on this subject to the meet- 
ing. Pasteur, who had recently been asked by the Committee 
of Epizootic Diseases to inquire into the mortality often caused 
by the inoculation of the peripneumonia virus, reminded his 
hearers in a few words of the variable qualities of virus and 
how the slightest impurity in a virus may exercise an influence 
on the effects of that virus. 

He and his collaborators had vainly tried to cultivate the 
virus of peripneumonia in chicken-broth, veal-broth, yeast- 
water, etc. They had to gather the virus from the lung of a 
cow v/hich had died of peripneumonia, by means of tubes 
previously sterilized; it was injected, with every precaution 
against alteration, under the skin of the tail of the animal, 
this part being chosen on account of the thickness of the skin 
and of the cellular tissue. By operating on other parts, 
serious aeci dents were apt to occur, the virus being extremely 

1882--1884 351 

violent, so much so in fact that the local irritation sometimes 
went so far as to cause the loss of part of the tail. At the end 
of the same year (1882), Pasteur published in the Eecueil de hi 
Medecine Veterinaire a paper indicating the following means 
of preserving the virus in a state of purity- — 

''Pure virus remains virulent for weeks and months. One 
lung is sufficient to provide large quantities of it, and its purity- 
can easily be tested in a stove and even in ordinary tem- 
perature. From one lung only, enough can be procured to 
be used for many animals. Moreover, v^^ithout having recourse 
to additional lungs, the provision of virus could be maintained 
in the following manner; it would suffice, before exhausting 
the first stock of virus, to inoculate a young calf behind the 
shoulder. Death speedily supervenes, and all tlie tissues are 
infiltrated with a serosity, which in its turn becomes virulent. 
This pIso can be collected and preserved in a state of purity." 
It remained to be seen whether virus thus preserved would 
become so attenuated as to lose all degree of virulence. 

Aubenas, then, wished to follow the example of Melun. In 
deference to the unanimous wish of the inhabitants of the 
little town, Pasteur went there on the 4th of May. His arrival 
was a veritable triumph ; there were decorations at the station^ 
floral arches in the streets, brass and other bands, speeches 
from the Mayor, presentation of the Municipal Council, of 
the Chamber of Commerce, etc., etc. Excitement reigned 
everyw'here, and the music of the bands was almost drowned 
by the acclamations of the people. At the meeting of the 
Agricultural Society, Pasteur was offered a medal with his 
own, and a work of art representing genii around a cup, 
their hands full of cocoons. A little microscope — that micro* 
«cope which had been called an impracticable instrument, fit 
for scientists only — figured as an attribute. 

''For us all," said the President of the Aubenas Spinning 
Syndicate, *'you have been the kindly magician whose inter- 
vention conjured away the scourge which threatened us; in 
you we hail our benefactor." 

Pasteur, effacing his own personality as he had done at the 
Academic, laid all this enthusiasm and gratitude as an offering 
to Science. 

"I am not its object, but rather a pretext for it," he said, 
and continued: ''Science has been the ruling passion of my 
life. I have lived but for Science, and in the hours of difficulty 


which are inherent to protracted efforts, the thought of France 
upheld my courage. I associated her greatness with the great- 
ness of Science. 

**By erecting a statue to Olivier de Serres, the illustrious 
son of the Vivarais, you give to France a noble example; you 
show to all that you venerate great men and the great things 
they have accomplished. Therein lies fruitful seed; you have 
gathered it, may your sons see it grow and fructify. I look 
back upon the time, already distant, when, desirous of respond- 
ing to the suggestions of a kind and illustrious friend, I left 
Paris to study in a neighbouring Department the scourge which 
was decimating your magnaneries. For five years I struggled 
to obtain some knowledge of the evil and the means of pre- 
venting it; and, after having found it, I still had to struggle 
to implant in other minds the convictions I had acquired. 

**A11 that is past and gone now, and I can speak of it with 
moderation. I am not often credited with that characteristic, 
and yet I am the most hesitating of men, the most fearful of 
responsibility, so long as I am not in possession of a proof. 
But when solid scientific proofs confirm my convictions, no 
consideration can prevent me from defending what I hold to 
be true. 

'*A man whose kindness to me was truly paternal (Biot) 
had for his motto : Per vias rectas. I congratulate myself that 
I borrowed it from him. If I had been more timid or more 
doubtful in view of the principles I had established, many 
points of science and of application might have remained 
obscure and subject to endless discussion. The hypothesis of 
spontaneous generation would still throw its veil over many 
questions. Your nurseries of silkworms would be under the 
sway of charlatanism, with no guide to the production of good' 
seed. The vaccination of charbon, destined to preserve agri 
culture from immense losses, would be misunderstood and 
rejected as a dangerous practice. 

*^ Where are now all the contradictions? They pass away, 
and Truth remains. After an interval of fifteen years, you 
now render it a noble testimony. I therefore feel a deep joy 
in seeing my efforts understood and celebrated in an impulse 
of sjonpathy which will remain in my memory and in that of 
my family as a glorious recollection.'* 

Pasteur was not allowed to return at once to his laboratory. 
The agricultors and veterinary surgeons of Nimes, who had 

1882—1884 353 

taken an interest in all the tests on the vaccination of charbon, 
had, in their turn, drawn up a programme of experiments. 

Pasteur arrived at a meeting of the Agricultural Society of 
the Gard in time to hear the report of the veterinary surgeons 
and to receive the congratulations of the Society. The 
President expressed to him the gratitude of all the cattle- 
owners and breeders, hitherto powerless to arrest the progress 
of the disease which he had now vanquished. "Whilst a com- 
memoration medal was being offered to him and a banquet 
being prepared — for Southern enthusiasm always implies a 
series of toasts — Pasteur thanked these enterprising men who 
were contemplating new experiments in order to dispel the 
doubts of a few veterinary surgeons, and especially the 
characteristic distrust, felt by some of the shepherds, of every, 
thing that did not come from the South. Sheep, oxen, and 
horses, some of them vaccinated, others intact, were put at 
Pasteur's disposal; he, with his usual energy, fixed the experi- 
ments for the next morning at eight o'clock. After inoculating 
all the animals with the charbon virus, Pasteur announced that 
those which had been vaccinated would remain unharmed, but 
that the twelve unvaccinated sheep would be dead or dying 
within forty-eight hours. An appointment was made for next 
day but one, on May 11, at the town knacker's, near the 
Bridge of Justice, where post-mortem examinations were made. 
Pasteur then went on to Montpellier, where he was expected 
by the Herault Central Society of Agriculture, who had also 
made some experiments and had asked him to give a lecture 
at the Agricultural School. He entered the large hall, feeling 
very tired, almost ill, but his face lighted up at the sight of 
that assembly of professors and students who had hurried from 
fill the neighbouring Faculties, and those agricultors crowding 
from every part of the Department, all of them either full of 
scientific curiosity or moved by their agricultural interests. 
His voice, at first weak and showing marks of weariness, soon 
became strengthened, and, forgetting his fatigue, he threw 
himself into the subject of virulent and contagious diseases. 
He gave himself up, heart and soul, to his audience, for two 
whole hours, inspiring every one with his own enthusiasm. 
He stopped now and then to invite questions, and his answers 
to the objectors swept away the last shred of resistance. 

**We must not," said the Vice-President of the Agricultural 
Society, M. Vialla, "encroach further on the time of M> 


Pasteur, which belongs to France itself. Perhaps, however, 
he will allow me to prefer a last request: he has delivered us 
from the terrible scourge of splenic fever ; will he now turn to a 
no less redoubtable infection, viz. rot, which is, so to speak, 
endemic in our regions? He will surely find the remedy 
for iV 

**I have hardly finished my experiments on splenic fever," 
answered Pasteur gently, ''and you want me to find a remedy 
for rot I Why not for phylloxera as well?" And, while 
regretting that the days were not longer, he added, with the 
energy of which he had just given a new proof: **As to efforts, 
I am yours usque ad mortem,^' 

He afterwards was the honoured guest at the banquet pre- 
pared for him. It was now not only Sericiculture, but also 
Agriculture, which proclaimed its infinite gratitude to him; he 
was given an enthusiastic ovation, in which, as usual, he saw 
no fame for himself, but for work and science only. 

On May 11, at nine o'clock in the morning, he was again at 
Nimes to meet the physicians, veterinary surgeons, cattle- 
breeders, and shepherds at the Bridge of Justice. Of the 
twelve sheep, six were already dead, the others dying; it was 
easy to see that their symptoms were the same as are charac- 
teristic of the ordinary splenic fever. '*M. Pasteur gave all 
necessary explanations with his usual modesty and clearness," 
said the local papers. 

'*And now let us go back to work!" exclaimed Pasteur, as 
he stepped into the Paris express; he was impatient to r^^turn 
to his laboratory. 

In order to give him a mark of public gratitude greater still 
than that which came from this or that district, the Academic 
des Sciences resolved to organize a general movement of 
Scientific Societies. It was decided to present him with a 
medal, engraved by Alphee Dubois, and bearing on one side 
Pasteur's profile and on the other the inscription: *'To Louis 
Pasteur, his colleagues, his friends, and his admirers. ' ^ 

On June 25, a Sunday, a delegation, headed by Dumas, and 
composed of Boussingault, Bouley, Jamin, Daubree, Bertin, 
Tisserand and Davaine arrived at the Ecole Normale and found 
Pasteur in the midst of his family. 

*'My dear Pasteur," said Dumas, in his deep voice, ''forty 
vears ago, you entered this building as a student. From the 

1882—1884 355 

very first, your masters foresaw that you would be an honour 
to it, but no one would have dared to predict the startling 
services which you were destined to render to science, France, 
and the world." 

And after summing up in a few words Pasteur 's great career, 
the sources of wealth which he had discovered or revived, the 
benefits he had acquired to medicine and surgery: ''My dear 
Pasteur," continued Dumas, with an affectionate emotion, 
''your life has known but success. The scientific method 
which you use in such a masterly manner owes you its greatest 
triumphs. The Ecole Normale is proud to number you 
amongst its pupils ; the Academic des Sciences is proud of your 
work; France ranks you amongst its glories. 

"At this time, when marks of public gratitude are flowing 
towards you from every quarter, the homage which we have 
come to offer you, in the name of your admirers and friends, 
may seem worthy of your particular attention. It emanates 
from a spontaneous and universal feeling, and it will preserve 
for posterity the faithful likeness of your features. 

"May you, my dear Pasteur, long live to enjoy your fame, 
and to contemplate the rich and abundant fruit of your work. 
Science, agriculture, industry, and humanity will preserve 
eternal gratitude towards you, and your name will live in their 
annals amongst the most illustrious and the most revered." 

Pasteur, standing with bowed head, his eyes full of tears, 
was for a few moments unable to reply, and then, making 
a violent effort, he said in a low voice — 

"My dear master — it is indeed forty years since I first had 
the happiness of knowing you, and since you first taught me 
to love science. 

"I was fresh from the country; after each of your classes, 
I used to leave the Sorbonne transported, often moved to tears. 
From that moment, your talent as a professor, your immortal 
labours and your noble character have inspired me with an 
admiration which has but grown with the maturity of my mind. 

"You have surely guessed my feelings, my dear master. 
There has not been one important circumstance in my life or 
in that of my familj^ either happy or painful, which you have 
not, as it were, blessed by your presence and sympathy. 

"Again to-day, j'-ou take the foremost rank in the expres- 
sion of that testimony, very excessive, I think, of the esteem 
of my masters, who have become my friends. And what you 


have done for me, you have done for all your pupils ; it is one 
of the distinctive traits of your nature. Behind the individual, 
you have always considered France and her greatness. 

**What shall I do henceforth? Until now, great praise had 
inflamed my ardour, and only inspired me with the idea of 
making myself worthy of it by renewed efforts ; but that which 
you have just given me in the names of the Academic and of 
the Scientific Societies is in truth beyond my courage.'^ 

Pasteur, who for a year had been applauded by the crowd, 
received on that June 25, 1882, the testimony which he rated 
above every other : praise from his master. 

Whilst he recalled the beneficent influence which Dumas 
had had over him, those who were sitting in his drawing-room 
at the Ecole Normale were thinking that Dumas might have 
evoked similar recollections with similar charm. He too had 
known enthusiasms which had illumined his youth. In 1822, 
the very year when Pasteur was born, Dumas, who was then 
living in a student's attic at Geneva, received the visit of a 
man about fifty, dressed Directoire fashion, in a light blue coat 
with steel buttons, a white waistcoat and yellow breeches. It 
was Alexander von Humboldt, who had wished, on his way 
through Geneva, to see the young man who, though only 
twenty-two years old, had just published, in collaboration with 
Prevost, treatises on blood and on urea. That visit, the long 
conversations, or rather the monologues, of Humboldt had 
inspired Dumas with the feelings of surprise, pride, gratitude 
and devotion with which the first meeting with a great man 
is wont to fill the heart of an enthusiastic youth. When Dumas 
heard Humboldt speak of Laplace, Berthollet, Gay-Lussac, 
Arago, Thenard, Cuvier, etc., and describe them as familiarly 
accessible, instead of as the awe-inspiring personages he had 
imagined, Dumas became possessed with the idea of going to 
Paris, knowing those men, living near them and imbibing their 
methods. **0n the day when Humboldt left Geneva," Dumas 
used to say, **the town for me became empty." It was thus 
that Dumas' journey to Paris was decided on, and his dazzling 
career of sixty years begun. 

He was now near the end of his scientific career, closing 
peacefully like a beautiful summer evening, and he was happy 
in the fame of his former pupil. As he left the Ecole Normale, 
on that June afternoon, he passed under the windows of tha 
laboratory, where a few young men, imbued with Pasteur V 

1882-^-1884. 35T 

doctrines, represented a future reserve for the progress of 

That year 1882 was the more interesting in Pasteur's life, 
in that though victory on many points was quite indisputable, 
partial struggles still burst out here and there, and an adversary 
often arose suddenly when he had thought the engagement over. 

The sharpest attacks came from Germany. The Record of 
the Works of the German Sanitary Office had led, under the 
direction of Dr. Koch and his pupils, a veritable campaign 
against Pasteur, whom they declared incapable of cultivating 
microbes in a state of purity. He did not even, they said, 
know how to recognize the septic vibrio, though he had dis- 
covered it. The experiments by which hens contracted splenic 
fever under a lowered temperature after inoculation signified 
nothing. The share of the earthworms in the propagation of 
charbon, the inoculation into guinea-pigs of the germs found 
in the little cylinders produced by those worms followed by 
the death of the guinea-pigs, all this they said was pointless and 
laughable. They even contested the preserving influence of 

Whilst these things were being said and written, the Veter- 
inary School of Berlin asked the laboratory of the Ecole 
Normale for some charbon vaccine. Pasteur answered that 
he wished that experiments should be made before a com- 
mission nominated by the German Government. It was con- 
stituted by the Minister of Agriculture and Forests, and 
Virchow was one of the members of it. A former student of 
the Ecole Normale — ^who, after leaving the school first on 
the list of competitors for the agregation of physical science, 
had entered the laboratory — one in whom Pasteur founded 
many hopes, Thuillier, left for Germany with his little tubes 
of attenuated virus. Pasteur was not satisfied; he would have 
liked to meet his adversaries face to face and oblige them 
publicly to own their defeat. An opportunity was soon to arise. 
He had come to Arbois, as usual, for the months of August and 
September, and was having some alterations made in his little 
house. The tannery pits were being filled up. *'It will not 
improve the house itself," he wrote to his son, **but it will be 
made brighter and more comfortable by having a tidy yard and 
a garden along the riverside." 

The Committee of the International Congress of Hygiene, 


which was to meet at Geneva, interrupted these peaceful 
holidays by inviting Pasteur to read a paper on attenuatecj 
virus. As a special compliment, the whole of one meeting, 
that of Tuesday, September 5, was to be reserved for his 
paper only. Pasteur immediately returned to work; he only 
consented under the greatest pressure to go for a short walk 
on the Besancon road at five o'clock every afternoon. After 
spending the whole morning and the whole afternoon sitting at 
his writing table over laboratory registers, he came away 
grumbling at being disturbed in his work. If any member of 
his family ventured a question on the proposed paper, he hastily 
cut them short, declaring that he must be let alone. It waa 
only when Mme. Pasteur had copied out in her clear hand- 
writing all the little sheets covered wdth footnotes, that the con- 
tents of the paper became know^n. 

When Pasteur entered the Congress Hall, great applause 
greeted him on every side. The seats were occupied, not only 
by the physicians and professors w^ho form the usual audience 
of a congress, but also by tourists, who take an interest in 
scientific things when they happen to be the fashion. 

Pasteur spoke of the invitation he had received. ' ' I hastened 
to accept it," he said, ''and I am pleased to find myself the 
guest of a country which has been a friend to France in good 
as in evil days. Moreover, I hoped to meet here some of the 
contradictors of my work of the last few years. If a congress 
is a ground for conciliation, it is in the same degree a ground 
for courteous discussion. We all are actuated by a supreme 
passion, that of progress and of truth. ' ' 

Almost always, at the opening of a congress, great politeness 
reigns in a confusion of languages. Men are seen offering each 
other pamphlets, exchanging visiting cards, and only lending 
an inattentive ear to the solemn speeches going on. This 
time, the first scene of the first act suspended all private con- 
versation. Pasteur stood above the assembly in his full 
strength and glory. Though he was almost sixty, his hair had 
remained black, his beard alone was turning grey. His face 
reflected indomitable energy; if he had not been slightly lame, 
and if his left hand had not been a little stiff, no one could 
have supposed that he had been struck with paralysis fourteen 
years before. The feeling of the place France should hold in 
an International Congress gave him a proud look and an impos- 
ing accent of authority. He ^as visibly ready to meet his 

1882—1884. 359 

adversaries and to make of this assembly a tribunal of judges. 
Except for a few diplomats who at the first words exchanged 
anxious looks at the idea of possible polemics, Frenchmen felt 
happy at being better represented than any other nation. Men 
eagerly pointed out to each other Dr. Koch, twenty-one years 
younger than Pasteur, who sat on one of the benches, listening, 
with impassive eyes behind his gold spectacles. 

Pasteur analysed all the work he had done with the collabora- 
tion of MM. Chamberland, Roux, and Thuillier. He made 
clear to the most ignorant among his hearers his ingenious 
experiments either to obtain, preserve or modify the virulence 
of certain microbes. ''It cannot be doubted," he said, "that 
we possess a general method of attenuation. . . . The 
general principles are found, and it cannot be disbelieved that 
the future of those researches is rich with the greatest hopes. 
But, however obvious a demonstrated truth may be, it has not 
always the privilege of being easily accepted. I have met in 
France and elsewhere with some obstinate contradictors. 
. . . Allow me to choose amongst them the one whose per- 
sonal merit gives him the greatest claims to our attention, I 
mean Dr. Koch, of Berlin." 

Pasteur then summed up the various criticisms which had 
appeared in the Record of the Works of the German Sanitary 
Office. ''Perhaps there may be some persons in this 
assembly," he went on, "who share the opinions of my con- 
tradictors. They will allow me to invite them to speak; I 
should be happy to answer them. ' ' 

Koch, mounting the platform, declined to discuss the subject, 
preferring, he said, to make answer in writing later on. Pasteur 
was disappointed; he would have wished the Congress, or at 
least a Commission designated by Koch, to decide on the 
experiments. He resigned himself to wait. On the following 
days, as the members of the Congress saw him attending 
meetings on general hygiene, school hygiene, and veterinary 
hygiene, they hardly recognized in the simple, attentive man, 
anxious for instruction, the man who had defied his adversary. 
Outside the arena, Pasteur became again the most modest of 
men, never allowing himself to criticize what he had not 
ihoroughly studied. But, when sure of his facts, he showed 
himself full of a violent passion, the passion of truth; when 
truth had triumphed, he preserved not the least bitterness of 
former straggles. 


That day of the 5th September was remembered in Geneva. 
'*A11 the honour was for France,'^ wrote Pasteur to his son; 
**that was what I had wished." 

He was already keen in the pursuit of another malady which 
caused great damage, the ^'rouget" disease or swine fever. 
Thuillier, ever ready to start when a demonstration had to be 
made or an experiment to be attempted, had ascertained, in 
March, 1882, in a part of the Department of the Vienne, the 
existence of a microbe in the swine attacked with that disease. 

In order to know whether this microbe was the cause of the 
evil, the usual operations of the sovereign method had to be 
resorted to. First of all, a culture mediam had to be found 
which was suitable to the micro-organism (veal broth was found 
to be very successful) ; then a drop of the culture had to be 
abstracted from the little phials where the microbe was develop- 
ing and sown into other flasks; lastly the culture liquid had to 
be inoculated into swine. Death supervened with all the 
symptoms of swine fever; the microbe was therefore the cause 
of the evil? Could it be attenuated and a vaccine obtained? 
Being pressed to study that disease, and to find the remedy for 
it, by M. Maucuer, a veterinary surgeon of the Department 
of Vaucluse, living at Bollene, Pasteur started, accompanied 
by his nephew, Adrien Loir, and M. Thuillier. The three 
arrived at BoUene on September 13. 

*'It is impossible to imagine more obliging kindness than 
that of those excellent Maucuers, " wrote Pasteur to his wife 
the next day. *' Where, in what dark comer they sleep, in 
order to give us two bedrooms, mine and another with two 
beds, I do not like to think. They are young, and have an 
eight-year-old son at the Avignon College, for whom they have 
obtained a half -holiday to-day in order that he may be presented 
to *]\L Pasteur.' The two men and I are taken care of in a 
manner you might envy. It is colder here and more rainy 
than in Paris. I have a fire in my room, that green oak-wood 
fire that you will remember we had at the Pont Gisquet. 

*'I was much pleased to hear that the swine fever is far from 
being extinquished. There are sick swine everywhere, some 
dying, some dead, at Bollene and in the country around; the 
evil is disastrous this year. We saw some dead and dying 
yesterday afternoon. We have brought here a young hog who 
is very ill, and this morning we shall attempt vaccination at a 

1882—1884 361 

M. de* Ballincourt*s, who has lost all his pigs, and who ha^ 
just bought some more in the hope that the vaccine will be 
preservative. From morning till night we shall be able to 
watch the disease and to try to prevent it. This reminds me 
of the pebrine, with pigsties and sick pigs instead of nurseries 
fuU of dying silkworms. Not ten thousand, but at least twenty 
thousand swine have perished, and I am told it is worse still in 
the Ardeche. " 

On the 17th, the day was taken up by the inoculation of some 
pigs on the estate of M. de la Gardette, a few kilometres from 
Bollene. In the evening, a former State Councillor, M. de 
Gaillard, came at the head of a delegation to compliment 
Pasteur and invite him to a banquet. Pasteur declined this 
honour, saying he would accept it when the swine fever was 
conquered. They spoke to him of his past services, but he 
had no thought for them; like all progress-seeking men, he saw 
but what was before him. Experiments were being carried out 
— he had hastened to have an experimental pigsty erected near 
M. Maucuer's house — and already, on the 21st, he wrote to 
Mme. Pasteur, in one of those letters which resembled the loose 
pages of a laboratory notebook — 

*' Swine fever is not nearly so obscure to me now, and I 
am persuaded that with the help of time the scientific and 
practical problem will be solved. 

** Three post-mortem examinations to-day. They take a long 
time, but that seems of no account to Thuillier, with his cool 
and patient eagerness.*' 

Three days later: *'I much regret not being able to tell you 
yet that I am starting back for Paris. It is quite impossible 
to abandon all these experiments which we have commenced; I 
should have to return here at least once or twice. The chief 
thing is that things are getting clearer with every experiment. 
You know that nowadays a medical knowledge of disease is 
nothing ; it must be prevented beforehand. We are attempting 
this, and I think I can foresee success; but keep this for your- 
self and our children. I embrace you all most affectionately. 

*'P.S. — I have never felt better. Send me 1,000 fr. ; I have 
but 300 fr. left of the 1,600 fr. I brought. Pigs are expensive, 
and we are killing a great many." 

At last on December 3: *'I am sending M. Dumas a note 
for to-morrow's meeting at the Academy. If I had time I 
would transcribe it for the laboratory and for Kene. 

;C M 




Our researches'* — tlius ran the report to the Academy — - 

may be summed up in the following propositions — 

I. The swine fever, or rouget disease, is produced by a 
special microbe, easy to cultivate outside the animal's body. It 
is so tiny that it often escapes the most attentive search. It 
resembles the microbe of chicken cholera more than any other; 
its shape is also that of a figure 8, but finer and less visible 
than that of the cholera. It differs essentially from the latter 
by its physiological properties; it kills rabbits and sheep, but 
has no effect on hens. 

**II. If inoculated in a state of purity into pigs, in almost 
inappreciable doses, it speedily brings the fever and death, 
with all the characteristics usual in spontaneous cases. It is 
most deadly to the white, so-called improved, race, that which 
is most sought after by pork-breeders. 

*'III. Dr. Klein published in London (1878) an extensive 
work on swine fever which he calls Pneumo-enteritis of Swine; 
but that author is entirely mistaken as to the nature of the 
parasite. He has described as the microbe of the rouget a 
bacillus with spores, more voluminous even than the bacteri- 
dium of splenic fever. Dr. Klein's microbe is very different 
from the true microbe of swine fever, and has, besides, no 
relation to the etiology of that disease. 

**IV. After having satisfied ourselves by direct tests that 
the malady does not recur, we have succeeded in inoculating it 
in a benignant form, after which the animal has proved refrac- 
tory to the mortal disease. 

**V, Though we consider that further control experiments 
are necessary, we have already great confidence in this, that, 
dating from next spring, vaccination by the virulent microbe of 
swine fever, attenuated, will become the salvation of pigsties." 

Pasteur ended thus his letter of December 3: **We shall 
start to-morrow, Monday. Adrien Loir and I shall sleep at 
Lyons. Thuillier will go straight to Paris, to take care of ten 
little pigs which we have bought, and which he will take with 
him. In this way they will not be kept waiting at stations. 
Pigs, young and old, are very sensitive to cold; they will be 
wrapped up in straw. They are very young and quite charm- 
ing; one cannot help getting fond of them." 

The next day Pasteur wrote to his son: ''Everything has 
gone off well, and we much hope, Thuillier and I, that pre- 
ventive vaccination of this evil can be established in a nractieal 

1882—1884 363 

fashion. It would be a great boon in pork-breeding countries, 
where terrible ravages are made by the rouget (so called because 
the animals die covered with red or purple blotches, already 
developed during the fever which precedes death). In the 
United States, over a million swine died of this disease in 1879 ; 
it rages in England and in Germany. This year, it has 
desolated the C6tes-du-Nord, the Poitou, and the departments 
of the Khone Valley. I sent to M. Dumas yesterday a resume 
in a few lines of our. results, to be read at to-day 's meeting. ' ^ 

Pasteur, once more in Paris, returned eagerly to his studies 
on divers virus and on hydrophobia. If he was told that he 
over-worked himself, he replied: **It would seem to me that I 
was committing a theft if I were to let one day go by without 
doing some work.'* But he was again disturbed in the work 
he enjoyed by the contradictions of his opponents. 

Koch's reply arrived soon after the Bollene episode. The 
German scientist had modified his views to a certain extent; 
instead of denying the attenuation of virus as in 1881, he now 
proclaimed it as a discovery of the first order. But he did not 
believe much, he said, in the practical results of the vaccination 
of charbon. 

Pasteur put forward, in response, a report from the veterinary 
surgeon Boutet to the Chartres Veterinary and Agricultural 
School, made in the preceding October. The sheep vaccinated 
in Eure et Loir during the last year formed a total of 79,392. 
Instead of a mortality which had been more than nine per cent. 
on the average in the last ten years, the mortality had only 
been 518 sheep, much less than one per cent; 5,700 sheep had 
therefore been preserved by vaccination. Amongst cattle 4,562 
animals had been vaccinated; out of a similar number 300 
usually died every year. Since vaccination, only eleven cows 
had died. 

Such results appear to us convincing," wrote M. Boutet. 

If our cultivators of the Beauce understand their own interest, 
splenic fever and malignant pustules will soon remain a mere 
memory, for charbon diseases never are spontaneous, and, by 
preventing the death of their cattle by vaccination, they will 
destroy all possibility of propagation of that terrible disease, 
which will in consequence entirely disappear." 

Koch continued to smile at the discovery on the earthworms' 
action in the etiolog^^ of anthrax. **You are mistaken, Sir," 
replied Pasteur. *'You are again preparing for yourself a 



rexing change of opinion." And he concluded as follows: 
''However violent your attacks, Sir, they will not hinder the 
success of the method of attenuated virus. I am confidently 
awaiting the consequences which it holds in reserve to help 
humanity in its struggle against the diseases which assault it." 

This debate was hardly concluded when new polemics arose 
at the Academic de Medecine. A new treatment of typhoid 
fever was under discussion. 

In 1870, M. Glenard, a Lyons medical student, who had 
enlisted, was, with many others, taken to Stettin as prisoner 
of war. A German physician, Dr. Brand, moved with com- 
passion by the sufferings of the vanquished French soldiers, 
showed them great kindness and devotion. The French 
student attached himself to him, helped him with his work, 
and saw him treat typhoid fever with success by baths at 20° C. 
Brand prided himself on this cold-bath treatment, which pro- 
duced numerous cures. ^I. Glenard, on his return to Lyons, 
remembering with confidence this method of which he had seen 
the excellent results, persuaded the physician of the Croix 
Eousse hospital, where he resided, to attempt the same treat- 
ment. This was done for ten years, and nearly all the Lyon9 
practitioners became convinced that Brand's method was 
efficacious. M. Glenard came to Paris and read to the 
Academy of Medicine a paper on the cold-bath treatment of 
typhoid fever. The Academy appointed a commission, com- 
posed of civil and military physicians, and the discussion was 

The oratorical display which had struck Pasteur when he 
first came to the Academic de Medecine was much to the fore 
on that occasion; the merely curious hearers of that discussion 
had an opportunity of enjojang medical eloquence, besides 
acquiring information on the new treatment of typhoid fever. 
There were some vehement denunciations of the microbe which 
was suspected in typhoid fever. ''You aim at the microbe and 
you bring down the patient ! ' ^ exclaimed one of the orators, 
who added, amidst great applause, that it was time '*to offer 
an impassable barrier to such adventurous boldness and thus 
to preserve patients from the unforeseen dangers of that 
therapeutic whirlwind ! * * 

Another orator took up a lighter tone: **I do not much 
believe in that invasion of parasites which threatens us like 
an eleventh plague of Egypt," said M. Peter. And attacking 

1882—1884 365 

the scientists who meddled with medicine, chymiasters as he 
called them, "They have come to this," he said, ''that in 
typhoid fevers they only see the typhoid fever, in typhoid fever, 
fever only, and in fever, increased heat. They have thus 
reached that luminous idea that heat must be fought by cold. 
This organism is on fire, let us pour water over it; it is a 
fireman's doctrine." 

Vulpian, whose grave mind was not unlike Pasteur's, inter- 
vened, and said that new attempts should not be discouraged 
by sneers. Without pronouncing on the merits of the cold-bath 
method, which he had not tried, he looked beyond this dis- 
cussion, indicating the road which theoretically seemed to him 
to lead to a curative treatment. The first thing was to discover 
the agent which causes typhoid fever, and then, when that 
was known, attempt to destroy or paralyse it in the tissues of 
typhoid patients, or else to find drugs capable either of pre- 
venting the aggressions of that agent or of annihilating the 
effects of that aggression, "to produce, relatively to typhoid 
fever, the effect determined by salicylate of soda in acute rheu- 
matism of the articulations." 

Beyond the restricted audience, allowed a few seats in the 
Academic de Medecine, the general public itself was taking an 
interest in this prolonged debate. The very high death rate 
in the army due to typhoid fever was the cause of this eager 
attention. Whilst the German army, where Brand's method 
was employed, hardly lost five men out of a thousand, the 
French army lost more than ten per thousand. 

Whilst military service was not compulsory, epidemics in 
barracks were looked upon with more or less compassionate 
attention. But the thought that typhoid fever had been more 
destructive within the last ten years than the most sanguinary 
battle now awakened all minds and hearts. Is then personal 
fear necessary to awaken human compassion? 

Bouley, who was more given to propagating new doctrines 
than to lingering on such philosophical problems, thought it 
was time to introduce into the debate certain ideas on the great 
problems tackled by medicine since the discovery of what 
might be called a fourth kingdom in nature, that of microbia. 
In a statement read at the Academic de Medecine, he formu- 
lated in broad lines the role of the infinitesimally small and 
their activity in producing the phenomena of fermentations and 
diseases. He showed by the parallel works of Pasteur on the 


one hand, and M. Chauveau on the other, that contagion is the 
function of a living element. **It is especially," said Bouley, 
*'on the question of the prophylaxis of virulent diseases that 
the microbian doctrine has given the most marvellous results. 
To seize upon the most deadly virus, to submit them to a 
methodical culture, to cause modifying agents to act upon them 
in a measured proportion, and thus to succeed in attenuating 
them in divers degrees, so as to utilize their strength, reduced 
but still efficacious, in transmitting a benignant malady by 
means of which immunity is acquired against the deadly 
disease : what a beautiful dream ! ! And M. Pasteur has made 
that dream into a reality!!! ..." 

The debate widened, typhoid fever became a mere incident. 
The pathogenic action of the infinitesimally small entered into 
the discussion; traditional medicine faced microbian medicine. 
M. Peter rushed once more to the front rank for the fight. He 
declared that he did not apply the term chymiaster to Pasteur ; 
he recognized that it was but **fair to proclaim that we owe 
to M. Pasteur's researches the most useful practical applica- 
tions in surgery and in obstetrics." But considering that 
medicine might claim more independence, he repeated that 
the discovery of the material elements of virulent diseases did 
not throw so much light as had been said, either on pathological 
anatomy, on the evolution, on the treatment or especially on 
the prophylaxis of virulent diseases. ** Those are but natural 
history curiosities," he added, ^ * interesting no doubt, but of 
very little profit to medicine, and not worth either the time 
given to them or the noise made about them. After so many 
laborious researches, nothing will be changed in medicine, 
there will only be a few more microbes." 

A newspaper having repeated this last sentence, a professor 
of the Faculty of Medicine, M. Cornil, simply recalled how, 
at the time when the acarus of itch had been discovered, many 
partisans of old doctrines had probably exclaimed, ^'What is 
vour acarus to me? Will it teach me more than I know 
already?" **But," added M. Cornil, ''the physician who had 
understood the value of that discovery no longer inflicted 
internal medication upon his patients to cure them of what 
seemed an inveterate disease, but merely cured them by means 
of a brush and a little ointment." 

M. Peter, continuing his violent speech, quoted certain vac- 
cination failures, and incompletely reported experiments, say- 

1882—1884 367 

ing, grandly: "M. Pasteur ^s excuse is that he is a chemist, 
who has tried, out of a wish to be useful, to reform medicine, 
to which he is a complete stranger. . . . 

**In the struggle I have undertaken the present discussion 
is but a skirmish; but, to judge from the reinforcements which 
are coming to me, the melee may become general, and victory 
will remain, I hope, to the larger battalions, that is to say, to 
the *old medicine.' '' 

Bouley, amazed that M. Peter should thus scout the notion 
of microbia introduced into pathology, valiantly fought this 
** skirmish" alone. He recalled the discussions a propos of 
tuberculosis, so obscure until a new and vivifying notion came 
to simplify the solution of the problem. **And you reject that 
solution! You say, 'What does it matter to me? . . . What! 
M. Koch, of Berlin — who with such discoveries as he has made 
might well abstain from envy — M. Koch points out to you the 
presence of bacteria in tubercles, and that seems to you of nc 
importance? But that microbe gives you the explanation of 
those contagious properties of tuberculosis so well demonstrated 
by M. Villemin, for it is the instrument of virulence itself which 
is put under your eyes.'' 

Bouley then went on to refute the arguments of M. Peter, 
epitomized the history of the discovery of the attenuation of 
virus, and all that this method of cultures possible in an extra- 
organic medium might suggest that was hopeful for a vaccine of 
cholera and of yellow fever, which might be discovered one day 
and protect humanity against those terrible scourges. He con- 
cluded thus — ''Let M. Peter do what I have done; let him 
study M. Pasteur, and penetrate thoroughly into all that is 
admirable, through the absolute certainty of the results, in 
the long series of researches which have led him from the 
discovery of ferments to that of the nature of virus; and 
then I can assure him that instead of decrying this great 
glory of France, of whom we must all he proud, he too 
will feel himself carried away by enthusiasm and will 
bow with admiration and respect before the chemist, who, 
though not a physician, illumines medicine and dispels, in 
the light of his experiments, a darkness which had hitherto 
remained impenetrable. ' ' 

A year before this (Peter had not failed to report the fact) 
an experiment of anthrax vaccination had completely failed at 
the Turin Veterinary School. All the sheep, vaccinated and 


non-vaccinated, had succumbed subsequently to the inoculatkC; 
of the blood of a sheep which had died of charbon. 

This took place in March, 1882. As soon as Pasteur heard 
of this extraordinary fiasco, which seemed the counterpart of 
the Pouilly-le-Fort experiment, he wrote on April 16 to the 
director of the Turin Veterinary School, asking on what day 
the sheep had died the blood of which had been used for the 
virulent inoculation. 

The director answered simply that the sheep had died on the 
morning of March 22, and that its blood had been inoculated 
during the course of the following day. *' There has been," 
said Pasteur, *'a grave scientific mistake; the blood inoculated 
was septic as well as full of charbon.'* 

Though the director of the Turin Veterinary School affirmed 
that the blood had been carefully examined and that it was in 
no wise septic, Pasteur looked back on his 1877 experiments 
on anthrax and septicemia, and maintained before the Paris 
Central Veterinary Society on June 8, 1882, that the Turin 
School had done wrong in using the blood of an animal at least 
twenty-four hours after its death, for the blood must have been 
septic besides containing anthrax. The six professors of the 
Turin School protested unanimously against such an interpre- 
tation. *'We hold it marvellous,'* they wrote ironically, *'that 
your Illustrious Lordship should have recognized so surely, 
from Paris, the disease which made such havoc amongst the 
animals vaccinated and non-vaccinated and inoculated with 
blood containing anthrax in our school on March 23, 1882. 

*'It does not seem to us possible that a scientist should 
affirm the existence of septicaemia in an animal he has not even 

seen. . . ." 

The quarrel with the Turin School had now lasted a year. 
On April 9, 1883, Pasteur appealed to the Academy of Sciences 
to judge of the Turin incident and to put an end to this agita- 
tion, which threatened to cover truth with a veil. He read out 
the letter he had just addressed to the Turin professors. 

*' Gentlemen, a dispute having arisen between you and 
myself respecting the interpretation to be given to the absolute 
failure of your control experiment of March 23, 1882, I have 
the honour to inform you that, if you wiU accept the suggestion, 
I will go to Turin any day you may choose ; you shall inoculate 
in my presence some virulent charbon into any number of 
sheep you like. The exact moment of death in each case shall 

1882—1884. 369 

be determined, and I will demonstrate to you that in every 
case the blood of the corpse containing only charbon at the first 
will also be septic on the next day. It will thus be established 
with absolute certainty that the assertion formulated by me on 
June 8, 1882, against which you have protested on two occa- 
sions, arises, not as you say, from an arbitrary opinion, but 
from an immovable scientific principle ; and that I have 
legitimately afSrmed from Paris the presence of septicaemia 
without it being in the least necessary that I should have seen 
the corpse of the sheep you utilized for your experiments. 

"Minutes of the facts as they are produced shall be drawn 
up day by day, and signed by the professors of the Turin 
Veterinary School and by the other persons, physicians or 
veterinary surgeons, who may have been present at the experi- 
ments; these minutes will then be published both at the 
Academies of Turin and of Paris/* 

Pasteur contented himself with reading this letter to the 
Academy of Sciences. For months he had not attended the 
Academy of Medicine; he was tired of incessant and barren 
struggles; he often used to come away from the discussions 
worn out and excited. He would say to Messrs. Chamberland 
and Roux, who waited for him after the meetings, "How is it 
that certain doctors do not understand the range, the value, of 
our experiments? How is it that they do not foresee the great 
future of all these studies?" 

The day after the Academic des Sciences meeting, judging 
that his letter to Turin sufficiently closed the incident, Pasteur 
started for Arbois. He wanted to set up a laboratory adjoining 
his house. "Where the father had worked with his hands, the 
son would work at his great light-emitting studies. 

On April 3 a letter from M. Peter had been read at the 
Academy of Medicine, declaring that he did not give up the 
struggle and that nothing would be lost by waiting. 

At the following sitting, another physician, M. Fauvel, while 
declaring himself an admirer of Pasteur's work and full of 
respect for his person, thought it well not to accept blindly 
all the inductions into which Pasteur might find himself drawn, 
and to oppose those which were contradictory to acquired facts. 
After M. Fauvel, M. Peter violently attacked what he called 
"microbicidal drugs which may become homicidal," he said. 
When reading the account of this meeting, Pasteur had an 
impulse of anger. His resolutions not to return to the? 


Academy of Medicine gave way before the desire not to leave 
Bouley alone to lead the defensive campaign; he started for 

As his family was then at Arbois, and the doors of his flat 
at the Ecole Normale closed, the simplest thing for Pasteur 
was to go to the Hotel du Louvre, accompanied by a member 
of his family. The next morning he carefully prepared his 
speech, and, at three o'clock in the afternoon, he entered the 
Academy of Medicine. The President, M. Hardy, welcomed 
him in these words — ''Allow me, before you begin to speak, 
to tell you that it is with great pleasure that we see you once 
again among us, and that the Academy hopes that, now that 
you have once more found your way to its precincts, you will 
not forget it again." 

After isolating and rectifying the points of discussion, 
Paste ar advised M. Peter to make a more searching inquiry 
into the subject of anthrax vaccination, and to trust to Time, 
the only sovereign judge. Should not the recollection of the 
violent hostility encountered at first by Jenner put people on 
Aheir guard against hasty judgments? There was not one of 
the doctors present who could not remember what had been 
written at one time against vaccination ! ! ! 

He went on to oppose the false idea that each science should 
restrict itself within its own limitations. *'What do I, a phy- 
sician, says M. Peter, want with the minds of the chemist, 
the physicist and the physiologist? 

*'0n hearing him speak with so much disdain of the chemists 
and physiologists who touch upon questions of disease, you 
might verily think that he is speaking in the name of a science 
whose principles are founded on a rock! Does he want proofs 
of the slow progress of therapeutics? It is now six months 
since, in this assembly of the greatest medical men, the 
question was discussed whether it is better to treat typhoid 
fever with cold lotions or with quinine, with alcohol or salicylic 
acid, or even not to treat it at all. 

*'And, when we are perhaps on the eve of solving the ques- 
tion of the etiolog;r of that disease by a microbe, M. Peter 
commits the medical blasphemy of saying, 'What do your 
microbes matter to me? It will only be one microbe the 
more ! ' " 

Amazed that sarcasm should be levelled against new studies 
which opened such wide horizons, he denounced the flippancy 

1882—1884 371 

with which a professor of the Faculty of Medicine allowed him? 
self to speak of vaccinations by attenuated virus. 

He ended by rejoicing once more that this great discovery 
should have been a French one. 

Pasteur went back to Arbois for a few days. On his return 
to Paris, he was beginning some new experiments, when he 
received a long letter from the Turin professors. Instead of 
accepting his offer, they enumerated their experiments, asked 
some questions in an offended and ironical manner, and con- 
cluded by praising an Italian national vaccine, which produced 
absolute immunity in the future — when it did not kill. 

They cannot get out of this dilemma," said Pasteur; 
either they knew my 1877 notes, unravelling the contra- 
dictory statements of Davaine, JaiUard and Leplat, and Paul 
Bert, or they did not know them. If they did not know them 
on March 22, 1882, there is nothing more to say; they were 
not guilty in acting as they did, but they should have owned it 
freely. If they did know them, why ever did they inoculate 
blood taken from a sheep twenty-four hours after its death? 
They say that this blood was not septic ; but how do they know ? 
They have done nothing to find out. They should have inocu- 
fated some guinea-pigs, by choice, and then tried some cultures 
in a vacuum to compare them with cultures in contact with 
air. Why will they not receive me? A meeting between 
truth-seeking men would be the most natural thing in the 

Still hoping to persuade his adversaries to meet him at Turin 
and be convinced, Pasteur wrote to them. '* Paris, May 9, 
1883. Gentlemen — ^Your letter of April 30 surprises me very 
much. What is in question between you and me? That I 
should go to Turin, if you will allow me, to demonstrate that 
sheep, dead of charbon, as numerous as you like, will, for a 
few hours after their death, he exclusively infected with 
anthrax, and that the day after their death they will present 
both anthrax and septic infection ; and that therefore, when, on 
March 23, 1882, wishing to inoculate blood infected with 
anthrax only into sheep vaccinated and non-vaccinated, you 
took blood from a carcase twenty-four hours after death, you 
committed a grave scientific mistake. 

** Instead of answering yes or no, instead of saying to m^ 
'Come to Turin/ or 'Do not come,' you ask me, in a manii- 


script letter of seventeen pages, to send you from Paris, in writ- 
ing, preliminary explanations of all that I should have to 
demonstrate in Turin. 

''Really, what is the good? Would not that lead to 
endless discussions? It is because of the uselessness of 
a written controversy that I have placed myself at your 

*'I have once more the honour of asking you to inform me 
whether you accept the proposal made to you on April 9, that I 
should go to Turin to place before your eyes the proofs of the 
facts I have just mentioned. 

"P.S. — In order not to complicate the debate, I do not dwell 
upon the many erroneous quotations and statements contained 
in your letter.'^ 

M. Roux began to prepare an interesting curriculum of 
experiments to be carried out at Turin. But the Turin pro* 
fessors wrote a disagreeable letter, published a little pamphlet 
entitled Of the Scientific Dogmatism of the Illustrious 
Professor Pasteur, and things remained as they were. 

All these discussions, renewed on so many divers points, were 
not altogether a waste of time; some of them bore fruitful 
results by causing most decisive proofs to be sought for. It 
has also made the path of Pasteur's followers wider and 
smoother that he himself should have borne the brunt of the 
first opposition. 

In the meanwhile, testimonials of gratitude continued to 
pour in from the agricultors and veterinary surgeons who had 
seen the results of two years' practice of the vaccination against 

In the year 1882, 613,740 sheep and 83,946 oxen had been 
vaccinated. The Department of the Cantal which had before 
lost about 3,000,000 fr. every year, desired in June, 1883, on 
the occasion of an agricultural show, to give M. Pasteur a 
special acknowledgment of their gratitude. It consisted of 
a cup of silver-plated bronze, ornamented with a group of 
2attle. Behind the group — imitating in this the town of 
Aubenas, who had made a microscope figure as an attribute of 
honour — was represented, in small proportions, an instrument 
which found itself for the first time raised to such an exalted 
position, the little syringe used for inoculations. 

Pasteur was much pressed to C©3M3 timself and receive this 
■jfrering from a land which would henceforth owe its fortune to 

1882—1884 373 

him. He allowed himself to be persuaded, and arrived, accom. 
panied as usual by bis family. 

The Mayor, surrounded by the municipal councillors, greeted 
him in these words: *'Our town of Aurillac is very small, and 
you will not find here the brilliant population which inhabits 
great cities; but you will find minds capable of understand- 
ing the scientific and humanitarian mission which you have so 
generously undertaken. You will also find hearts capable of 
appreciating your benefits and of preserving the memory of 
them; your name has been on all our lips for a long time.'* 

Pasteur, visiting that local exhibition, did not resemble the 
official personages who listen wearily to the details given them 
by a staff of functionaries. He thought but of acquiring know- 
ledge, going straight to this or that exhibitor and questioning 
him, not with perfunctory politeness, but with a real desire 
for practical information ; no detail seemed to him insignificant. 
*' Nothing should be neglected,*' he said; "and a remark from 
a rough labourer who does well what he has to do is infinitely 
precious. ' ' 

After visiting the products and agricultural implements, 
Pasteur was met in the street by a peasant who stopped and 
waved his large hat, shouting, ''Long live Pasteur!" . . . 
*'You have saved my cattle," continued the man, coming up 
to shake hands with him. 

Physicians in their turn desired to celebrate and to honour him 
who, though not a physician, had rendered such service to 
medicine. Thirty-two of them assembled to drink his health. 
The head physician of the Aurillac Hospital, Dr. Fleys, said in 
proposing the toast: ''What the mechanism of the heavens 
owes to Newton, chemistry to Lavoisier, geology to Cuvier, 
general anatomy to Bichat, physiology to Claude Bernard, 
pathology and hygiene will owe to Pasteur. Unite with me, 
dear colleagues, and let us drink to the fame of the illustrious 
Pasteur, the precursor of the medicine of the future, a bene- 
factor to humanity." 

This glorious title was now associated with his name. In the 
first rank of his enthusiastic admirers came the scientists, who, 
from the point of view of pure science, admired the achieve- 
ments, within those thirty-five years, of that great man whose 
perseverance equalled his penetration. Then came the manu- 
facturers, the sericicultors, and the agricultors, who owed theii 


fortune to him who had placed every process he discovered 
into the public domain. Finally, France could quote the words 
of the English physiologist, Huxley, in a public lecture at the 
London Royal Society: ''Pasteur's discoveries alone would 
suffice to cover the war indemnity of five milliards paid by 
France to Germany in 1870.'* 

To that capital was added the inestimable price of human 
lives saved. Since the antiseptic method had been adopted 
in surgical operations, the mortality had fallen from 50 per 100 
to 5 per 100. 

In the lying-in hospitals, more than decimated formerly (for 
the statistics had shown a death-rate of not only 100 but 200 
per 1,000), the number of fatalities was now reduced to 3 per 
1,000 and soon afterwards fell to 1 per 1,000. And, in conse- 
quence of the principles established by Pasteur, hygiene was 
growing, developing, and at last taking its proper place in the 
public view. So much progress accomplished had brought 
Pasteur a daily growing acknowledgment of gratitude, his 
country was more than proud of him. His powerful mind, 
allied with his very tender heart, had brought to French glory 
an aureole of charity. 

The Government of the Republic remembered that England 
had voted two national rewards to Jenner, one in 1802 and one 
in 1807, the first of £10,000, and the second of £20,000. It 
was at the time of that deliberation that Pitt, the great orator, 
exclaimed, ''Vote, gentlemen, your gratitude will never reach 
the amount of the service rendered." 

The French Ministry proposed to augment the 12,000 fr. pen- 
sion accorded to Pasteur in 1874 as a national recompense, and 
to make it 25,000 fr., to revert first to Pasteur's widow, and 
then to his children. A Commission was formed and Paul Bert 
again chosen to draw up the report. 

On several occasions at the meetings of the commission one 
of its members, Benjamin Raspail, exalted the parasitic theory 
propounded in 1843 by his own father. His filial pleading 
went so far as to accuse Pasteur of plagiarism. Paul Bert, 
whilst recognizing the share attributed by F. V. Raspail to 
microscopic beings, recalled the fact that his attempt in favour 
of epidemic and contagious diseases had not been adopted by 
scientists. "No doubt," he said, "the parasitic origin of the 
itch was now definitely accepted, thanks in a great measure 
to the efforts of Raspail; but generalizations were considered 

1882—1884 375 

as out of proportion to the fact they were supposed to rest on. 
It seemed excessive to conclude from the existence of the acarus 
of itch, visible to the naked eye or with the weakest magnifying 
glass, the presence of microscopic parasites in the humours 
of virulent diseases. . . . Such hypotheses can be considered 
but as a sort of intuition." 

** Hypotheses,'* said Pasteur, "come into our laboratories 
in armfuls; they fill our registers with projected experiments, 
they stimulate us to research — and that is all." One thing 
only counted for him: experimental verification. 

Paul Bert, in his very complete report, quoted Huxley's 
words to the Royal Society and Pitt's words to the House of 
Commons. He stated that since the first Bill had been voted, 
a new series of discoveries, no less marvellous from a theo- 
retical point of view and yet more important from a practical 
point of view, had come to strike the world of Science with 
astonishment and admiration." Recapitulating Pasteur's 
works, he said — 

**They may be classed in three series, constituting three 
great discoveries. 

"The first one may be formulated thus: Each fermentation 
is produced hy the development of a special microhe. 

"The second one may be given this formula: Each infec* 
tious disease (those at least that M. Pasteur and his immediate 
followers have studied) is produced hy the development mithin 
the organism of a special microhe, 

"The third one may be expressed in this way: The microle 
of an infectious disease, cultivated under certain detrimental 
conditions, is attenuated in its pathogenic activity; from a virus 
it has become a vaccine. 

"As a practical consequence of the first discovery, M. 
Pasteur has given rules for the manufacture of beer and of 
vinegar, and shown how beer and wine may be preserved against 
secondary fermentations which would turn them sour, bitter or 
slimy, and which render difficult their transport and even their 
preservation on the spot. 

"As a practical consequence of the second discovery, M. 
Pasteur has given rules to be followed to preserve cattle from 
splenic fever contamination, and silkworms from the diseases 
which decimated them. Surgeons, on the other hand, have 
succeeded, by means of the guidance it afforded, in effecting 
almost completely the disappearance of erysipelas and of thd 


purulent infections which formerly brought about the death of 
so many patients after operations. 

*'As a practical consequence of the third discovery, M, 
Pasteur has given rules for, and indeed has affected, the preser. 
vation of horses, oxen, and sheep from the anthrax disease 
which every year kills in France about 20,000,000 francs* 
worth. Swine will also be preserved from the rouget disease 
which decimates them, and poultry from the cholera which 
makes such terrible havoc among them. Everything leads U3 
to hope that rabies will also soon be conquered." When Paul 
Bert was congratulated on his report, he said, ''Admiration is 
such a good, wholesome thing ! ' ' 

The Bill was voted by the Chamber, and a fortnight later by 
the Senate, unanimously. Pasteur heard the first news through 
the newspapers, for he had just gone to the Jura. On July 
14, he left Arbois for Dole, where he had promised to be 
present at a double ceremony. 

On that national holiday, a statue of Peace was to be 
inaugurated, and a memorial plate placed on the house where 
Pasteur was born; truly a harmonious association of ideas. 
The prefect of the Jura evidently felt it when, while unveiling 
the statue in the presence of Pasteur, he said: "This is 
Peace, who has inspired Genius and the great services it has 
rendered." The official procession, followed by popular accla- 
mation, went on to the narrow Rue des Tanneurs. When 
Pasteur, who had not seen his native place since his child- 
hood, found himself before the tannery, in the low humble 
rooms of which his father and mother had lived, he felt himself 
the prey to a strong emotion. 

The mayor quoted these words from the resolutions of the 
Municipal Council: **M. Pasteur is a benefactor of Humanity, 
one of the great men of France; he will remain for all Dolois 
and in particular those who, like him, have risen from the ranks 
of the people, an object of respect as well as an example to 
follow; we consider that it is our duty to perpetuate his name 
in our town." 

The Director of Fine Arts, M. Kaempfen, representing the 
Government at the ceremony, pronounced these simple words: 
*'In the name of the Government of the Republic, I salute the 
inscription which commemorates the fact that in this little 
house, in this little street, was born, on December 27, 1822, 

1882—1884 377 

he who was to become one of the greatest scientists of this cen* 
tury so great in science, and who has, by his admirable 
labours, increased the glory of France and deserved well of the 
whole of humanity/* 

The feelings in Pasteur's heart burst forth in these terms: 
** Gentlemen, I am profoundly moved by the honour done to 
me by the town of Dole; but allow me, while expressing my 
gratitude, to protest against this excess of praise. By accord- 
ing to me a homage rendered usually but to the illustrious 
dead, you anticipate too much the judgment of posterity. Will 
it ratify your decision? and should not you, Mr. i\Iayor, have 
prudently warned the Municipal Council against such a hasty 
resolution ? 

**But after protesting, gentlemen, against the brilliant testi- 
mony of an admiration which is more than I deserve, let me tell 
you that I am touched, moved to the bottom of my soul. Your 
sympathy has joined on that memorial plate the two great 
things which have been the passion and the delight of my life : 
the love of Science and the cult of the home. 

**0h! my father, my mother, dear departed ones, who lived 
€0 humbly in this little house, it is to you that I owe every- 
thing. Thy enthusiasm, my brave-hearted mother, thou hast 
instilled it into me. If I have always associated the greatness 
of Science with the greatness of France, it is because I was 
impregnated with the feelings that thou hadst inspired. And 
thou, dearest father, whose life was as hard as thy hard trade, 
thou hast shown to me what patience and protracted effort can 
accomplish. It is to thee that I owe perseverance in daily 
work. Not only hadst thou the qualities which go to make 
a useful life, but also admiration for great men and great 
things. To look upwards, learn to the utmost, to seek to rise 
ever higher, such was thy teaching. I can see thee now, after 
a hard day's work, reading in the evening some story of the 
battles in the glorious epoch of which thou wast a witness. 
Whilst teaching me to read, thy care was that I should learn 
^he greatness of France. 

**Be ye blessed, my dear parents, for what ye have been, 
and may the homage done to-day to your little house be 
yours ! 

'*I thank you, gentlemen, for the opportunity of saying 
aloud what I have thought for sixty years. I thank you for 
this fete and for your welcome, and I thank the town of Dole 


whicli loses sight of none of her children, and which has kept 
such a remembrance of me.'* 

''Nothing is more exquisite," wrote Bouley to Pasteur,. 
*'than those feeHngs of a noble heart, giving credit to the 
parents* influence for all the glory with which their son has 
covered their name. All your friends recognized you, and you 
appeared under quite a new light to those who may have 
misjudged your heart by knowing of you only the somewhat 
bitter words of some of your Academy speeches, when the love 
of truth has sometimes made you forgetful of gentleness." 

It might have seemed that after so much homage, especially 
when offered in such a delicate way as on this last occasion, 
Pasteur had indeed reached a pinnacle of fame. His ambition 
however was not satisfied. Was it then boundless, in spite of 
the modesty which drew aU hearts towards him? What more 
did he wish? Two great things: to complete his studies on 
hydrophobia and to establish the position of his collaborators— 
whose name he ever associated with his work — as his acknow- 
ledged successors. 

A few cases of cholera had occurred at Bamietta in the month 
of June. The English declared that it was but endemic 
cholera, and opposed the quarantines. They had with them 
the majority of the Alexandria Sanitary Council, and could 
easily prevent sanitary measures from being taken. If the 
English, voluntarily closing their eyes to the dangers of the 
epidemic, had wished to furnish a new proof of the importation 
of cholera, they could not have succeeded better. The cholera 
spread, and by July 14 it had reached Cairo. Between the 
14th and 22nd there were five hundred deaths per day. 

Alexandria was threatened. Pasteur, before leaving Paris 
for Arbois, submitted to the Consulting Committee of Public 
Hygiene the idea of a French Scientific Mission to Alex- 
andria. *' Since the last epidemic in 1865," he said, ** science 
has made great progress on the subject of transmissible diseases. 
Every one of those diseases which has been subjected to a 
thorough study has been found by biologists to be produced by a 
microscopic being developing within the body of man or of 
animals, and causing therein ravages which are generally 
mortal. All the symptoms of the disease, all the causes of 
death depend directly upon the physiological properties of the 
microbe. . . . What is wanted at this moment to satis^' 

1882—1884 379 

the preoccupations of science is to inquire into the primary 
cause of the scourge. Now the present state of knowledge 
demands that attention should be drawn to the possible exist- 
ence within the blood, or within some organ, of a micra 
organism whose nature and properties would account in all 
probability for all the peculiarities of cholera, both as to the 
morbid symptoms and the mode of its propagation. The proved 
existence of such a microbe would soon take precedence over 
the whole question of the measures to be taken to arrest the 
evil in its course, and might perhaps suggest new methods of 

Not only did the Committee of Hygiene approve of Pasteur's 
project, but they asked him to choose some young men whose 
knowledge would be equalled by their devotion. Pasteur only 
had to look around him. "When, on his return to the laboratory, 
he mentioned what had taken place at the Committee of 
Hygiene, M. Roux immediately offered to start. A professor 
at the Faculty of Medicine who had some hospital practice, 
M. Straus, and a professor at the Alfort Veterinary School, 
M. Nocard, both of whom had been authorised to work in the 
laboratory, asked permission to accompany M. Roux. Thuillier 
had the same desire, but asked for twenty-four hours to think 
over it. 

The thought of his father and mother, who had made a great 
many sacrifices for his education, and whose only joy was to 
receive him at Amiens, where they lived, during his short 
holidays, made him hesitate. But the thought of duty over- 
came his regrets; he put his papers and notes in order and 
went to see his dear ones again. He told his father of his 
intention, but his mother did not know of it. At the time when 
the papers spoke of a French commission to study cholera, 
his elder sister, who loved him with an almost motherly tender- 
ness, said to him suddenly, ''You are not going to Egypt, 
Louis ? swear that you are not ! " "I am not going to swear 
anything," he answered, with absolute calm; adding that he 
might some time go to Russia to proceed to some vaccination of 
anthrax, as he had done at Buda-Pesth in 1881. When he left 
Amiens nothing in his farewells revealed his deep emotion; it 
was only from Marseilles that he wrote the truth. 

Administrative difiSculties retarded the departure of the 
Commission, which only reached Egypt on August 15. Dr. 
Koch had also come to study cholera. The head physician of 


the European hospital, Dr. Ardouin, placed his wards at the 
entire disposal of the French savants. In a certain number of 
cases, it was possible to proceed to post-mortem examinations 
immediately after death, before putrefaction had begun. It 
was a great thing from the point of view of the search after a 
pathogenic micro-organism as well as from the anatomo-patho- 
logical point of view. 

The contents of the intestines and the characteristic stools of 
the cholera patients ojffered a great variety of micro-organisms. 
But which was really the cause of cholera? The most varied 
modes of culture were attempted in vain. The same negative 
results followed inoculations into divers animal species, cats, 
dogs, swine, monkeys, pigeons, rabbits, guinea-pigs, etc., 
made with the blood of cholerics or with the contents of their 
bowels. Experiments were made with twenty-four corpses. 
The epidemic ceased unexpectedly. Not to waste time, while 
waiting for a reappearance of the disease, the French Commis- 
sion took up some researches on cattle plague. Suddenly a 
telegram from M. Roux informed Pasteur that Thuillier had 
succumbed to an attack of cholera. 

'*I have juf5t heard the news of a great misfortune,'* wrote 
Pasteur to J. B. Dumas on September 19; **M. Thuillier 
died yesterday at Alexandria of cholera. I have telegraphed 
to the Mayor of Amiens asking him to break the news to the 

** Science loses in Thuillier a courageous representative with 
a great future before him. I lose a much-loved and devoted 
pupil; my laboratory one of its principal supports. 

*'I can only console myself for this death by thinking of our 
beloved country and all he has done for it." 

Thuillier was only twenty-six. How had this happened t 
Had he neglected any of the precautions which Pasteur had 
written dov/n before the departure of the Commission, and 
which were so minute as to be thought exaggerated? 

Pasteur remained silent all day, absolutely overcome. The 
head of the laboratory, M. Chamberland, divining his master's 
grief, came to Arbois. They exchanged their sorrowful 
thoughts, and Pasteur fell back into his sad broodings. 

A few days later, a letter from M. Roux related the sad story : 
** Alexandria^ September 21. Sir and dear master— Having 
just heard that an Italian ship is going to start, I am writing a 
few lines without waiting for the French mail. The tele 

1882—1884 381 

graph has told you of the terrible misfortune which has 
befallen us.'* 

M. Roux then proceeded to relate in detail the symptoms 
presented by the unfortunate young man, who, after going to 
bed at ten o'clock, apparently in perfect health, had suddenly 
been taken ill about three o'clock in the morning of Saturday, 
September 15. At eight o'clock, all the horrible symptoms 
of the most violent form of cholera were apparent, and his 
friends gave him up for lost. They continued their desperate 
endeavours however, assisted by the whole staff of French and 
Italian doctors. 

**By dint of all our strength, all our energy, we protracted 
the struggle until seven o'clock on "Wednesday morning, the 
19th. The asphyxia, which had then lasted twenty-four hours, 
was stronger than our efforts. 

**Your own feelings will help you to imagine our grief. 

**The French colony and the medical staff are thunder- 
struck. Splendid funeral honours have been rendered to our 
poor Thuillier. 

**He was buried at four o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, 
with the finest and most imposing manifestation Alexandria 
had seen for a long time. 

**One very precious and affecting homage was rendered by 
the German Commission with a noble simplicity which touched 
us all very much. 

*'M. Koch and his collaborators arrived when the news 
spread in the town. They gave utterance to beautiful and 
touching words to the memory of our dead friend. When the 
funeral took place, those gentlemen brought two wreaths which 
chey themselves nailed on the coffin. 'They are simple,' said 
M. Koch, 'but they are of laurel, such as are given to the 

*'M. Koch held one comer of the pall. We embalmed our 
comrade's body; he lies in a sealed zinc coffin. All formalities 
have been complied with, so that his remains may be brought 
back to France when the necessary time has expired. In 
Egypt the period of delay is a whole year. 

"The French colony desires to erect a monument to the 
memory of Louis Thuillier. 

**Dear master, how much more I should like to tell you! 
The recital of the sad event which happened so quickly would 
take paff«i$ This blow is aJtoe-etbnr iiocomorehensible. It was 


more than a fortnight since we had seen a single case ol 
cholera; we were beginning to study cattle-plague. 

* * Of us all, Thuillier was the one who took most precautions ; 
he was irreproachably careful. 

**"We are writing by this post a few lines to his family, in 
the names of all of us. 

''Such are the blows cholera can strike at the end of an 
epidemic ! Want of time forces me to close this letter. Pray 
believe in our respectful affection.*^ 

The whole of the French colony, who received great marks of 
sympathy from the Italians and other foreigners, wished to 
perpetuate the memory of Thuillier. Pasteur wrote, on October 
16, to a French physician at Alexandria, who had informed him 
of this project: 

"I am touched with the generous resolution of the French 
colony at Alexandria to erect a monument to the memory of 
Louis Thuillier. That valiant and beloved young man was 
deserving of every honour. I know, perhaps better than any 
one, the loss inflicted on science by his cruel death. I cannot 
console myself, and I am already dreading the sight of the dear 
fellow's empty place in my laboratory. ' ' 

On his return to Paris, Pasteur read a paper to the Academy 
of Sciences, in his own name and in that of Thuillier, on the 
now well-ascertained mode of vaccination for swine-fever. He 
began by recalling Thuillier 's worth: 

'* Thuillier entered my laboratory after taking the first rank 
at the Physical Science Agregation competition at the Ecole 
Normale. His was a deeply meditative, silent nature ; his whole 
person breathed a virile energy which struck all those who knew 
him. An indefatigable worker, he was ever ready for self- 

A few days before, M. Straus had given to the Biology 
Society a summary statement of the studies of the Cholera Com- 
mission, concluding thus: "The documents collected during 
those two months are far from solving the etiological problem of 
cholera, but will perhaps not be useless for the orientation of 
future research." 

The cholera bacillus was put in evidence, later on, by Dr. Koch, 
who had already suspected it during his researches in Egypt. 

Glory, which had been seen in the battlefield at the beginning 
of the nineteenth century, now seemed to elect to dwell in tbe 

1882—1884 383 

laboratory, that "temple of the future" as Pasteur called it 
From every part of the world, letters reached Pasteur, appeals, 
requests for consultations. Many took him for a physician. 
'*He does not cure individuals," answered Edmund About one 
day to a foreigner who was under that misapprehension; *'he 
only tries to cure humanity." Some sceptical minds were pre- 
dicting failure to his studies on hydrophobia. This problem was 
complicated by the fact that Pasteur was trying in vain to dis- 
cover and isolate the specific microbe. 

He was endeavouring to evade that difficulty; the idea pur- 
sued him that human medicine might avail itself of *'the long 
period of incubation of hydrophobia, by attempting to establish, 
during that interval before the appearance of the first rabic 
symptoms, a refractory condition in the subjects bitten. '' 

At the beginning of the year 1SS4, J. B. Dumas enjoyed 
following from a distance Pasteur's readings at the Academie 
des Sciences His failing health and advancing age (he was 
more than eighty years old) had forced him to spend the winter 
in the South of France. On January 26, 1884, he wrote to 
Pasteur for the last time, a propos of a book ^ which was a short 
summary of Pasteur's discoveries and their concatenation: 

**Dear colleague and friend, — I have read with a great and 
sincere emotion the picture of your scientific life drawn by a 
faithful and loving hand. 

** Myself a witness and a sincere admirer of your happy 
efforts, your fruitful genius and your imperturbable method, 
I consider it a great service rendered to Science, that the 
accurate and complete whole should be put before the eyes of 
young people. 

**It will make a wholesome impression on the public in 
general; to young scientists, it will be an initiation, and to 
those who, like me, have passed the age of labour it will bring 
happy memories of j^outhful enthusiasm. 

"May Providence long spare you to France, and maintain in 
you that admirable equilibrium between the mind that observes, 
the genius that conceives, and the hand that executes with a 
perfection unknown until now." 

This was a last proof of Dumas' affection for Pasteur. 
Although his life was now fast drawing to its close, his mental 
faculties were in no wise impaired, for we find him three weeks 
later, on February 20, using his influence as Permanent Secre* 

1 La Vie d'un Savant, by the author of the present work. JTrans.) 


tary of the Academy to obtain the Lacaze prize for M. Cailletet, 
the inventor of the well-known apparatus for the liquefaction of 

J. B. Dumas died on April 11, 1884. Pasteur was then about 
to start for Edinburgh on the occasion of the tercentenary of the 
celebrated Scotch University. The ''Institut de France," 
invited to take part in these celebrations, had selected represen- 
tatives from each of the five Academies: the Academie 
Fran^aise was sending M. Caro; the Academy of Sciences, 
Pasteur and de Lesseps; the Academy of Moral Sciences, M. 
Greard; the Academy of Inscriptions and Letters, M. Perrot; 
and the Academy of Fine Arts, M. Eugene Guillaume. The 
College de France sent M. Guillaume Guizot, and the Academy 
of Medicine Dr. Henry Gueneau de Mussy. 

Pasteur much wished to relinquish this official journey; the 
idea that he would not be able to follow to the grave the incom- 
parable teacher of his youth, the counsellor and confidant of his 
life, was infinitely painful to him. 

He was however reconciled to it by one of his colleagues, 
M. Mezieres, who was going to Edinburgh on behalf of the 
Minister of Public Instruction, and who pointed out to him that 
the best way of honouring Dumas* memory lay in remembering 
Dumas ^ chief object in life — the interests of France. Pasteur 
went, hoping that he would have an opportunity of speaking of 
Dumas to the Edinburgh students. 

In London, the French delegates had the pleasant surprise 
of finding that a private saloon had been reserved to tak-e Pasteur 
and his friends to Edinburgh. This hospitality was offered to 
Pasteur by one of his numerous admirers, Mr. Younger, an 
Edinburgh brewer, as a token of gratitude for his discoveries in 
the manufacture of beer. He and his wife and children wel- 
comed Pasteur with the warmest cordiality, when the trail} 
reached Edinburgh; the principal inhabitants of the great 
Scotch city vied with each other in entertaining the French 
delegates, who were delighted with their reception. 

The next morning, they, and the various representatives 
from all parts of the world, assembled in the Cathedral of St. 
Giles, where, with the exalted feeling which, in the Scotch 
people, mingles religious with political life, the Town Council 
had decided that a service should inaugurate the rejoicings. 
The Rev. Robert Flint, mounting that pulpit from which the 
impetuous John Knox, Calviji's friend and disciple, had 

1882—1884. 385 

breathed forth his violent fanaticism, preached to the immense 
assembly with a full consciousness of the importance of his dis- 
course. He spoke of the relations between Science and Faith, 
of the absolute liberty of science in the realm of facts, of the 
thought of God considered as a stimulant to research, progress 
being but a Di\dne impulse. 

In the afternoon, the students imparted life and merriment 
into the proceedings; they had organized a dramatic perform- 
ance, the members of the orchestra, even, being undergraduates. 

The French delegates took great interest in the system of this 
University. Accustomed as they were to look upon the State 
as sole master and dispenser, they now saw an independent 
institution, owing its fortune to voluntary contributions, reveal- 
ing in every point the power of private enterprise. Unlike 
what takes place in France, where administrative unity makes 
itself felt in the smallest village, the British Government effaces 
itself, and merely endeavours to inspire faith in political unity. 
Absolutely her own mistress, the University of Edinburgh is 
free to confer high honorary degrees on her distinguished 
visitors. However, these honorary diplomas are but of two 
kinds, viz. : Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) and Doctor of Laws 
(LL.D.). In 1884, seventeen degrees of D.D. and 122 degrees 
of LL.D. were reserved for the various delegates. *'The only 
laws I know," smilingly said the learned Helmholtz, **are the 
laws of Physics." 

The solemn proclamation of the University degrees took place 
on Thursday, April 17. The streets and monuments of the 
beautiful city were decorated with flags, and an air of rejoicing 
pervaded the whole atmosphere. 

The ceremony began by a special prayer, alluding to the past, 
looking forward to the future, and asking for God's blessing on 
the delegates and their countries. The large assembly filled the 
immense hall where the Synod of the Presbyterian Church holds 
its meetings. The Chancellor and the Rector of the University 
were seated on a platform with a large number of professors; 
those who were about to receive honorary degrees occupied seats 
in the centre of the hall; about three thousand students found 
seats in various parts of the hall. 

The Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh had arranged 
that the new graduates should be called in alphabetical order. 
As each of them heard his name, he rose and mounted the 
platform. The students took great pleasure in heartily cheer- 


ing those savants who had had most influence on their studied. 
When Pasteur's name was pronounced, a great silence ensuea;. 
every one was trying to obtain a sight of him as he walked 
towards the platform. His appearance was the signal for a 
perfect outburst of applause ; five thousand men rose and cheered 
him. It was indeed a splendid ovation. 

In the evening, a banquet was set out in the hall, which was 
hung with the blue and white colours of the University; there 
were a thousand guests, seated round twenty-eight tables, one 
of which, the high table, was reserved for the speakers who were 
to propose the toasts, which were to last four hours. Pasteur 
was seated next to Virchow ; they talked together of the question 
of rabies, and Virchow owned that, when he saw Pasteur in 
1881 about to tackle this question, he much doubted the pos- 
sibility of a solution. This friendly chat between two such men 
proves the desirability of such gatherings; intercourse between 
the greatest scientists can but lead to general peace and fra- 
ternity between nations. After having read a telegram from, 
the Queen, congratulating the University and welcoming the 
guests, a toast was drunk to the Queen and to the Royal Family, 
and a few words spoken by the representative of the Emperor of 
Brazil. Pasteur then rose to speak: 

**My Lord Chancellor, Gentlemen, the city of Edinburgh is 
now offering a sight of which she may be proud. All the great 
scientific institutions, meeting here, appear as an immense Con- 
gress of hopes and congratulations. The honour and glory of 
this international rendezvous deservedly belong to you, for it is 
centuries since Scotland united her destinies with those of the 
human mind. She was one of the first among the nations to 
understand that intellect leads the world. And the world of 
intellect, gladly answering your call, lays a well-merited homage 
at your feet. When, yesterday, the eminent Professor Robert 
Flint, addressing the Edinburgh University from the pulpit of 
St. Giles, exclaimed, 'Remember the past and look to the 
future,' all the delegates, seated like judges at a great tribunal, 
evoked a vision of past centuries and joined in a unanimous wish 
for a yet more glorious future. 

** Amongst the illustrious delegates of all nations who bring 
you an assurance of cordial good wishes, France has sent to 
represent her those of her institutions which are most represen- 
tative of the French spirit and the best part of French glory. 
France is ready to applaud whenever a source of light appears in 

1882—1884. 387 

the world ; and when death strikes down a man of genius, 
France is ready to weep as for one of her own children. This 
noble spirit of solidarity was brought home to me when I heard 
some of you speak feelingly of the death of the illustrious 
chemist, J. B. Dumas, a celebrated member of all your 
Academies, and only a few years ago an eloquent panegyrist of 
your great Faraday. It was a bitter grief to me that I had to 
leave Paris before his funeral ceremony ; but the hope of render- 
ing here a last and solemn homage to that reverend master 
helped me to conquer my affliction. Moreover, gentlemen, men 
may pass, but their works remain ; we all are but passing guests 
of these great homes of intellect, which, like all the Universities 
who have come to greet you in this solemn day, are assured of 

Pasteur, having thus rendered homage to J. B. Dumas, and 
having glorified his country by his presence, liis speech and the 
great honours conferred on him, would have returned home at 
cnce; but the undergraduates begged to be allowed to enter- 
tain, the next day, some of those men whom they looked upon 
as examples and whom they might never see again. 

Pasteur thanked the students for this invitation, which filled 
him with pride and pleasure, for he had always loved young 
people, he said, and continued, in his deep, stirring voice: 

"Ever since I can remember my life as a man, I do not think 
I have ever spoken for the first time with a student without 
saying to him, "Work perseveringly ; work can be made into 
a pleasure, and alone is profitable to man, to his city, to his 
country.' It is even more natural that I should thus speak to 
you. The common soul (if I may so speak) of an assembly of 
young men is wholly formed of the most generous feelings, 
being yet illumined with the divine spark wliich is in every man 
as he enters this world. You have just given a proof of this 
assurance, and I have felt moved to the heart in hearing you 
applaud, as you have just been doing, such men as de Lesseps, 
Helmholtz and Virchow. Your language has borrowed from 
ours the beautiful word enthusiasm^ bequeathed to us by the 
Greeks: ^v dedsy an inward God. It was almost with a 
divine feeling that you just now cheered those great men. 

"One of those of our writers who have best made known to* 
France and to Europe the philosophy of Robert Reid and 
Dugald Stewart said, addressing young men in the preface of 
one of his works: — 


(( f 

Whatever career you may embrace, look up to an exalted 
goal ; worship great men and great things. * 

** Great things! You have indeed seen them. Will not this 
centenary remain one of Scotland's glorious memories? As to 
great men, in no country is their memory better honoured 
than in yours. But, if work should be the very life of your 
life, if the cult for great men and great things should be asso- 
ciated with your every thought, that is still not enough. Try 
to bring into everything you undertake the spirit of scientific 
method, founded on the immortal works of Galileo, Descartes 
and Newton. 

**You especially, medical students of this celebrated Univer- 
sity of Edinburgh — who, trained as you are by eminent masters, 
may aspire to the highest scientific ambition — be you inspired by 
the experimental method. To its principles, Scotland owes 
such men as Brewster, Thomson and Lister.'' 

The speaker who had to respond on behalf of the students 
to the foreign delegates expressed himself thus, directly address- 
ing Pasteur : 

** Monsieur Pasteur, you have snatched from nature secrets 
too carefully, almost maliciously hidden. We greet in you a 
benefactor of humanity, all the more so because we know that 
you admit the existence of spiritual secrets, revealed to us by 
what you have just called the work of God in us. 

'* Representatives of France, we beg you to tell your great 
country that we are following with admiration the great reforms 
now being introduced into every branch of your education, 
reforms which we look upon as tokens of a beneficent rivalry and 
of a more and more cordial intercourse — for misunderstandings 
result from ignorance, a darkness lightened by the work of 

The next morning, at ten o'clock, crowds gathered on the 
station platform with waving handkerchiefs. People were 
showing each other a great Edinburgh daily paper, in which 
Pasteur's speech to the undergraduates was reproduced and 
which also contained the following announcement in large 
print : 

*'In memory of M. Pasteur's visit to Edinburgh, Mr. 
Younger offers to the Edinburgh University a donation of 
£500. ' ' 

Livingstone's daughter, Mrs. Bruce, on whom Pasteur had 
called the preceding day, came to the station a few moments 

1882—1884 389 

before the departure of the train, bringing him a book entitled 
The Life of Livingstone. 

The saloon carriage awaited Pasteur and his friends. They 
departed, delighted with the hospitality they had received, and 
much struck with the prominent place given to science and the 
welcome afforded to Pasteur. ''This is indeed glory," said one 
of them. ** Believe me," said Pasteur, '*! only look upon it as 
a reason for continuing to go forward as long as my strength 
does not fail me." 


Amidst the various researches undertaken ia his laboratory, 
one study was placed by Pasteur above every other, one mystery 
constantly haunted his mind — that of hydrophobia. When he 
was received at the Academic Frangaise, Renan, hoping to prove 
himself a prophet for once, said to him: ** Humanity will owe 
to you deliverance from a horrible disease and also from a sad 
anomaly: I mean the distrust which we cannot help mingling 
with the caresses of the animal in whom we see most of nature's 
smiling benevolence.*' 

The two first mad dogs brought into the laboratory were 
given to Pasteur, in 1880, by M. Bourrel, an old army veter- 
inary surgeon who had long been trying to find a remedy for 
hydrophobia. He had invented a preventive measure which 
consisted in filing down the teeth of dogs, so that they should 
not bite into the skin; in 1874, he had written that vivisection 
threw no light on that disease, the laws of which were * * impene- 
trable to science until now.'' It now occurred to him that, 
perhaps, the investigators in the laboratory of the Ecole Nor- 
male might be more successful than he had been in his kennels 
in the Rue Fontaine-au-Roi. 

One of the two dogs he sent was suffering from what is called 
dumb mad'iiess: his jaw hung, half opened and paralyzed, his 
tongue was covered with foam, and his eyes full of wistful 
anguish; the other made ferocious darts at anything held out 
to him, with a rabid fury in his bloodshot eyes, and, in the 
hallucinations of his delirium, gave vent to haunting, despairing 

Much confusion prevailed at that time regarding this disease, 
its seat, its causes, and its remedy. Three things seemed posi- 
tive : firstly, that the rabic virus was contained in the saliva of 
the mad animals; secondly, that it was communicated through 


1884j— 1885 391 

bites ; and thirdly, that the period of incubation might vary from 
a few days to several months. Clinical observation was reduced 
to complete impotence ; perhaps experiments might throw some 
light on the subject. 

Bouley had affirmed in April, 1870, that the germ of the evil 
was localized in the saliva, and a new fact had seemed to support 
this theory. On December 10, 1880, Pasteur was advised by 
Professor Lannelongue that a five-year-old child, bitten on the 
face a month before, had just been admitted into the Hopital 
Trousseau. The unfortunate little patient presented all the 
characteristics of hydrophobia: spasms, restlessness, shudders 
at the least breath of air, an ardent thirst, accompanied with an 
absolute impossibility of swallowing, convulsive movements, fits 
of furious rage — not one symptom was absent. The child died 
after twenty-four hours of horrible suffering — suffocated by the 
mucus which filled the mouth. Pasteur gathered some of that 
mucus four hours after the child's death, and mixed it with 
water; he then inoculated this into some rabbits, which died in 
less than thirty-six hours, and whose saliva, injected into other 
rabbits, provoked an almost equally rapid death. Dr. Maurice 
Raynaud, who had already declared that hydrophobia could be 
transmitted to rabbits through the human saliva, and who had 
also caused the death of some rabbits with the saliva of ^hat 
same child, thought himself justified in saying that those rabbits 
had died of hydrophobia. 

Pasteur was slower in drawing conclusions. He had examined 
with a microscope the blood of those rabbits which had died in 
the laboratory, and had found in it a micro-organism; he had 
cultivated this organism in veal broth, inoculated it into rabbits 
and dogs, and, its virulence having manifested itself in these 
animals, their blood had been found to contain that same 
microbe. **But, " added Pasteur at the meeting of the 
Academy of Medicine (January 18, 1881), *'I am absolutely ig- 
norant of the connection there may be between this new disease 
and hydrophobia." It was indeed a singular thing that the 
deadly issue of this disease should occur so early, when the 
incubation period of hydrophobia is usually so long. Was there 
not some unknown microbe associated with the rabie saliva? 
This query was followed by experiments made with the saliva 
of children who had died of ordinary diseases, and even with 
that of healthy adults. Thuillier, following up and studying 
this saliva microbe and its special virulence with his usual 


patience, soon applied to it with success the method of attenua- 
tion by the oxygen in air. ''What did we want with a new 
disease?" said a good many people, and yet it was making a 
step forward to clear up this preliminary confusion. Pasteur, 
in the course of a long and minute study of the saliva of mad 
dogs — in which it was so generally admitted that the virulent 
principle of rabies had its seat, that precautions against saliva 
were the only ones taken at post-mortem examinations — dis- 
covered many other mistakes. If a healthy dog's saliva contains 
many microbes, licked up by the dog in various kinds of dirt, what 
must be the condition of the mouth of a rabid dog, springing upon 
everything he meets, to tear it and bite it? The rabic virus is 
therefore associated with many other micro-organisms, ready to 
play their part and puzzle experimentalists; abscesses, morbid 
complications of all sorts, may intervene before the develop- 
ment of the rabic virus. Hydrophobia might evidently be 
developed by the inoculation of saliva, but it could not be con- 
fidently asserted that it would. Pasteur had made endless 
efforts to inoculate rabies to rabbits solely through the saliva 
of a mad dog; as soon as a case of hydrophobia occurred in 
Bourrel's kennels, a telegram informed the laboratory, and a 
few rabbits were immediately taken round in a cab. 

One day, Pasteur having wished to collect a little saliva from 
the jaws of a rabid dog, so as to obtain it directly, two of Bourrel's 
assistants undertook to drag a mad bulldog, foaming at the 
mouth, from its cage; they seized it by means of a lasso, and 
stretched it on a table. These two men, thus associated with 
Pasteur in the same danger, with the same calm heroism, held 
the struggling, ferocious animal down with their powerful 
hands, whilst the scientist drew, by means of a glass tube held 
between his lips, a few drops of the deadly saliva. 

But the same uncertainty followed the inoculation of the 
saliva; the incubation was so slow that weeks and months 
often elapsed whilst the result of an experiment was being 
anxiously awaited. Evidently the saliva was not a sure agent 
for experiments, and if more knowledge was to be obtained, 
some other means had to be found of obtaining it. 

Magendie and Renault had both tried experimenting with 
rabic blood, but with no results, and Paul Bert had been 
equally unsuccessful. Pasteur tried in his turn, but also in 
vain. "We must try other experiments," he said, with his 
^sual indefatigable perseverance. 

1884—1885 393 

As the number of cases observed became larger, he felt a 
growing conviction that hydrophobia has its seat in the nervous 
system, and particularly in the medulla oblongata. ''The 
propagation of the virus in a rabid dog's nervous system can 
almost be observed in its every stage,'* writes M. Roux, 
Pasteur's daily associate in these researches, which he after- 
wards made the subject of his thesis. "The anguish and fury 
due to the excitation of the grey cortex of the brain are followed 
by an alteration of the voice and a difficulty in deglutition. 
The medulla oblongata and the nerves starting from it are 
attacked in their turn; finally, the spinal cord itself becomes 
invaded and paralysis closes the scene." 

As long as the virus has not reached the nervous centres, it 
may sojourn for weeks or months in some point of the body; 
this explains the slowness of certain incubations, and the fortu- 
nate escapes after some bites from rabid dogs. The a priori 
supposition that the virus attacks the nervous centres went very 
far back ; it had served as a basis to a theory enunciated by Dr. 
Duboue (of Pau), who had, however, not supported it by any 
experiments. On the contrary, when M. Galtier, a professor 
at the Lyons Veterinary School, had attempted experiments in 
that direction, he had to inform the Academy of Medicine, in 
January, 1881, that he had only ascertained the existence of 
virus in rabid dogs in the lingual glands and in the bucco- 
pharyngeal mucous membrane. ''More than ten times, and 
always unsuccessfully, have I inoculated the product obtained 
by pressure of the cerebral substances of the cerebellum or of 
the medulla oblongata of rabid dogs." 

Pasteur was about to prove that it was possible to succeed 
by operating in a special manner, according to a rigorous tech- 
nique, unknown in other laboratories. When the post-mortem 
examination of a mad dog had revealed no characteristic lesion, 
the brain was uncovered, and the surface of the medulla 
oblongata scalded with a glass stick, so as to destroy any 
external dust or dirt. Then, with a long tube, previously put 
through a flame, a particle of the substance was drawn and 
deposited in a glass just taken from a stove heated up to 200° C., 
and mixed with a little water or sterilized broth by means of a 
glass agitator, also previously put through a flame. The 
syringe used for inoculation on the rabbit or dog (lying ready on 
the operating board) had been purified in boiling water. 

Most of the animals who received this inoculation under the 


skin succumbed to hydrophobia ; that virulent matter was there- 
fore more successful than the saliva, which was a great result 

"The seat of the rabic virus/' wrote Pasteur, '^is therefore 
not in the saliva only: the brain contains it in a degree of 
virulence at least equal to that of the saliva of rabid animals.'* 
But, to Pasteur's eyes, this was but a preliminary step on the 
long road which stretched before him; it was necessary that 
all the inoculated animals should contract hydrophobia, and 
the period of incubation had to be shortened. 

It was then that it occurred to Pasteur to inoculate the rabie 
virus directly on the surface of a dog's brain. He thought 
that, by placing the virus from the beginning in its true medium, 
hydrophobia would more surely supervene and the incubation 
might be shorter. The experiment was attempted: a dog 
under chloroform was fixed to the operating board, and a small, 
round portion of the cranium removed by means of a trephine 
(a surgical instrument somewhat similar to a fret-saw) ; the 
tough fibrous membrane called the dura-mater, being thus 
exposed, was then injected with a small quantity of the pre- 
pared virus, which lay in readiness in a Pravaz syringe. The 
wound was washed with carbolic and the skin stitched to- 
gether, the whole thing lasting but a few minutes. The 
dog, on returning to consciousness, seemed quite the same 
as usual. But, after fourteen days, hydrophobia appeared: 
rabid fury, characteristic howls, the tearing up and devour- 
ing of his bed, delirious hallucination, and finally, paralysis 
and death. 

A method was therefore found by which rabies was con- 
tracted surely and swiftly. Trephinings were again performed 
on chloroformed animals — Pasteur had a great horror of useless 
sufferings, and always insisted on anesthesia. In every case, 
characteristic hydrophobia occurred after inoculation on the 
brain. The main lines of this complicated question were begin- 
ning to be traceable; but other obstacles were in the way. 
Pasteur could not apply the method he had hitherto used, i.e. 
to isolate, and then to cultivate in an artificial medium, the 
microbe of hydrophobia, for he failed in detecting this microbe. 
Yet its existence admitted of no doubt; perhaps it was beyond 
the limits of human sight. "Since this unknown being is 
living," thought Pasteur, "we must cultivate it; failing an 

1884—1885 395 

artificial medium, let us try the brain of living rabbits; it 
would indeed be an experimental feat ! ' ' 

As soon as a trephined and inoculated rabbit died paralyzed, 
a little of his rabic medulla was inoculated to another; each 
inoculation succeeded another, and the time of incubation be- 
came shorter and shorter, until, after a hundred uninterrupted 
inoculations, it came to be reduced to seven days. But the 
virus, having reached this degree, the virulence of which was 
found to be greater than that of the virus of dogs made rabid 
by an accidental bite, now became fixed; Pasteur had mastered 
it. He could now predict the exact time when death should 
occur in each of the inoculated animals; his predictions were 
verified with surprising accuracy. 

Pasteur was not yet satisfied with the immense progress 
marked by infallible inoculation and the shortened incubation; 
he now wished to decrease the degrees of virulence — when the 
attenuation of the virus was once conquered, it might be hoped 
that dogs could be made refractory to rabies. Pasteur abstracted 
a fragment of the medulla from a rabbit which had just died of 
rabies after an inoculation of the fixed virus; this fragment 
was suspended by a thread in a sterilized phial, the air in which 
was kept dry by some pieces of caustic potash lying at the bottom 
of the vessel and which was closed by a cotton-wool plug to pre- 
vent the entrance of atmospheric dusts. The temperature of 
the room where this desiccation took place was maintained at 
23° C. As the medulla gradually became dry, its virulence 
decreased, until, at the end of fourteen days, it had become 
absolutely extinguished. This now inactive medulla was 
crushed and mixed with pure water, and injected under the 
skin of some dogs. The next day they were inoculated with 
medulla which had been desiccating for thirteen days, and so 
on, using increased virulence until the medulla was used of a 
rabbit dead the same day. These dogs might now be bitten by 
rabid dogs given them as companions for a few minutes, or 
submitted to the intracranial inoculations of the deadly virus; 
they resisted both. 

Having at last obtained this refractory condition, Pasteur was 
anxious that his results should be verified by a Commission. 
The Minister of Public Instruction acceded to this desire, and 
a Commission was constituted in May, 1884, composed of 
^Messrs. Beclard, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Paul Bert, 
Bouley, Yillemin. Vulpian, and Tisserand, Director of the 


Agricultural Office. The Commission immediately set to work; 
a rabid dog having succumbed at Alfort on June 1, its carcase 
was brought to the laboratory of the Ecole Normale, and a frag- 
ment of the medulla oblongata was mixed with some sterilized 
broth. Two dogs, declared by Pasteur to be refractory to 
rabies, were trephined, and a few drops of the liquid injected 
into their brains; two other dogs and two rabbits received 
inoculations at the same time, with the same liquid and in 
precisely the same manner. 

Bouley was taking notes for a report to be presented to the 
Minister : 

**M. Pasteur tells us that, considering the nature of the 
rabic virus used, the rabbits and the two new dogs will develop 
rabies within twelve or fifteen days, and that the two refractory 
dogs will not develop it at all, however long they may be 
detained under observation.'' 

On May 29, Mme. Pasteur wrote to her children: 

**The Commission on rabies met to-day and elected M. 
Bouley as chairman. Nothing is settled as to commencing 
experiments. Your father is absorbed in his thoughts, talks 
little, sleeps little, rises at dawn, and, in one word, continues 
the life I began with him this day thirty-five years ago." 

On June 3, Bourrel sent word that he had a rabid dog in 
the kennels of the Rue Fontaine-au-Roi ; a refractory dog 
and a new dog were immediately submitted to numerous 
bites; the latter was violently bitten on the head in several 
places. The rabid dog, still living the next day and still able 
to bite, was given two more dogs, one of which was refractory; 
this dog, and the refractory dog bitten on the 3rd, were 
allowed to receive the first bites, the Commission having 
thought that perhaps the saliva might then be more abundant 
and more dangerous. 

On June 6, the rabid dog having died, the Commission pro- 
ceeded to inoculate the medulla of the animal into six more 
dogs, by means of trephining. Three of those dogs were 
refractory, the three others were fresh from the kennels; there 
were also two rabbits. 

On the 10th, Bourrel telegraphed the arrival of another 
rabid dog, and the same operations were gone through. 

^'This rabid, furious dog," wrote Pasteur to his son-in-law, 
''had spent the night lying on his master's bed; his appearance 
had been suspicious for a day or two. On the morning of the 

1884—1885 397 

10th, his voice became rabietic, and his master, who had 
heard the bark of a rabid dog twenty years ago, was seized 
with terror, and brought the dog to M. Bourrel, who found that 
he was indeed in the biting stage of rabies. Fortunately a 
lingering fidelity had prevented him from attacking his 
master. . . . 

"This morning the rabic condition is beginning to appear 
on one of the new dogs trephined on June 1, at the same time 
as two refractory dogs. Let us hope that the other new dog 
will also develop it and that the two refractory ones will 
resist. ' ' 

At the same time that the Commission examined this dog 
which developed rabies within the exact time indicated by 
Pasteur, the two rabbits on whom inoculation had been per- 
formed at the same time were found to present the first, 
symptoms of rabic paralysis. "This paralysis," noted Bouley, 
"is revealed by great weakness of the limbs, particularly of 
the hind quarters; the least shock knocks them over and 
they experience great difficulty in getting up again." The 
second new dog on whom inoculation had been performed 
on June 1 was now also rabid; the refractory dogs were in 
perfect health. 

During the whole of June, Pasteur found time to keep his 
daughter and son-in-law informed of the progress of events. 
"Keep my letters," he wrote, "they are almost like copies 
of the notes taken on the experiments." 

Towards the end of the month, dozens of dogs were sub- 
mitted to control-experiments which were continued until 
August. The dogs which Pasteur declared to be refractory 
underwent all the various tests made with rabic virus; bites, 
injections into the veins, trephining, everything was tried 
before Pasteur would decide to call them vaccinated. On 
June 17, Bourrel sent word that the new dog bitten on June 3 
was becoming rabic; the members of the Commission went to 
the Rue Fontaine-au-Roi. The period of incubation had only 
lasted fourteen days, a fact attributed by Bouley to the bites 
having been chiefly about the head. The dog was destroying 
his kennel and biting his chain ferociously. More new dogs 
developed rabies the following days. Nineteen new dogs had 
been experimented upon: three died out of six bitten by a 
rabid dog, six out of eight after intravenous inoculation, and 
five out of five after subdural inoculation. Bouley thought that 


a few more cases miglit occur, the period of incubation after 
bites being so extremely irregular. 

Bouiey's report was sent to the Minister of Public